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Duchene Tallies Again, Confidence Showing

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

It's only two games, but Matt Duchene appears to be working his way out of any so-called slump.

Duchene tallied his third goal in two contests late in the final period on Thursday, giving the Colorado Avalanche a chance to force overtime against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena.

The Avs forward's fourth score of the season with 3:46 left in regulation made it a one-goal game and gave his club a boost of energy in the closing minutes. After Duchene's tally, Colorado had three shots on goal and five more attempts that missed wide or were blocked before Jordan Martinook scored into an empty net to seal a 4-2 victory for Arizona.

After having scored just once in the first 11 games, tallying in back-to-back contests is progress for the 24-year-old, who has already notched 20 goals in a season four times in his young career. He is also on a three-game point streak.

"When you're in a slump like that, when you're younger, you kind of worry, not quite sure where you're at," Duchene said before the contest in Arizona. "In year seven, I think there wasn't a second where I was really panicking. Maybe a couple times I got down on myself, but in terms of being around the net, you just have to relax and know it's going to come."

Colorado head coach Patrick Roy mixed up his top two lines at the start of the third period, moving Duchene from a group with Gabriel Landeskog and Carl Soderberg to a trio that included Alex Tanguay and Nathan MacKinnon.

After MacKinnon won an offensive-zone faceoff, the newly formed combo connected.

Duchene put away his two goals on Tuesday against the Calgary Flames by driving to the net, and he did the same thing with his most recent tally. Getting the puck in the low right circle, the forward powered his way to the top of the crease before leaning back and flicking a shot over the shoulder of goaltender Mike Smith.

"Confidence is the biggest reason for success and failure in this league," Duchene said prior to puck drop. "You can't just show up and throw the gear on, as a team and as an individual."

It looks like Duchene is starting to have that confidence.


Patrick Roy used his second coach's challenge of the season on Thursday, but like his first one, the officials didn't see eye to eye with the Avalanche coach.

The Coyotes scored their third goal of the game at 5:16 of the second period on a fluky play that saw the puck go off Colorado forward Ben Street as he lost an edge and crashed into the net.

After making the original save on an outside shot, Avs goalie Semyon Varlamov swatted the puck away to his right, but it bounced off Street as he was tangled up with Arizona's Steve Downie. The two skaters slid into Varlamov and the puck ended up crossing the goal line.

"We start the second period, obviously they scored an unlucky goal for us," Roy said after the game. "I think it tipped off one of our sticks and beat Varly.

"I thought [Downie] pushed [Street] into the goalie. That is why I challenged it. I thought it was a good challenge… At first I thought the referee had the intention of blowing the whistle before the puck went it. I guess it didn't work out."

The tally was later awarded to Nicklas Grossman, as he was the last Coyotes player to touch the puck.

Roy used his first-ever coach's challenge also on a possible goalie-interference play in last Saturday's game versus San Jose.


Since giving up three power-play goals on Oct. 27 at the Florida Panthers, the Avalanche penalty kill has been solid and the short-handed unit was once again up to the challenge on Thursday versus the Coyotes.

Colorado killed off all six Arizona man-advantage opportunities, including 1:07 of a 5-on-3 in the second period.

The Avs have now not allowed a goal in 10 straight and in 15 of their last 17 short-handed situations. Colorado entered the game ranked 15th in the league in the penalty kill at 80.5 percent.


Brandon Gormley was planning on wearing the Arizona Coyotes colors to begin the 2015-16 season. That was until about a week before training camp began.


Colorado acquired Gormley on Sept. 9 in exchange for fellow defenseman Stefan Elliott, moving both blueliners from the only franchises they've ever known. Gormley was selected No. 13 overall by the Coyotes in 2010, while Elliott was the Avs' second-round pick (No. 49 overall) in 2009.

Gormley returned to the desert Thursday night but as a visitor to Gila River Arena.

"It's obviously a little different being back in this building, but I'm excited for my new team here," Gormley said before the contest.

A healthy scratch at the beginning of the year, the 23-year-old has started to find his place in the Avs' defensive rotation. He played in his fifth game of the year against the Coyotes and has now appeared in three of the team's last four contests.

"It's been great," he said of being a member of the Avalanche. "Obviously a great organization, great young team, and I'm excited to be a part of it."

Elliott did not play in the game as he was out with an upper-body injury.


Following the loss in Arizona, Colorado returns home to host the New York Rangers in the second half of a back-to-back schedule on Friday night at Pepsi Center.

The game against the Rangers will close out the second of 10 back-to-back slates this year for the Avs and will be their last home game for over two weeks. The Avalanche begins a seven-game, 15-day road trip out east next Tuesday, which is tied for the longest since the team moved to Denver.

After New York, Colorado's next home contest is Nov. 25 versus Ottawa.

Roy had previously said that he was going to use goalie Reto Berra against the Rangers, who will be rested after having not played since Tuesday. New York practiced Thursday at the University of Denver.

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