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Duchene Tops 20 Goals For Fifth Time

by Ryan Boulding / Colorado Avalanche

Sunday night’s game may not have gone the way the Colorado Avalanche had hoped, but one player continuing to play well is forward Matt Duchene.

Duchene scored twice in the 6-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, upping his goal total to 21 on the season.

“Offensively, he was really good. I thought he showed great patience on that second one,” head coach Patrick Roy said after the match. “It’s nice to get two goals but when you lose, I’m sure it’s not the same feeling.”

The Halliburton, Ontario, native has now scored 20 or more goals in five of his seven NHL campaigns—including three straight. In fact, Duchene has only scored less than 20 goals in years in which he’s played less than 60 games.

The 24-year-old has 355 points (147 goals, 208 assists) in 462 games played with Colorado and currently sits in 10th place on the Avalanche’s all-time goals list, 13 tallies behind former center Paul Stastny (160) for ninth. Duchene has played in 76 fewer games.

The NHL announced on Wednesday that No. 9 was selected to represent the Avs at his second All-Star Game since joining the league in 2009, the 2016 event in Nashville, Tennessee.

After a slow start to the season, Duchene poured it on in November. Burying everything he could, Duchene finished the month with 20 points (11 goals, nine assists) in 14 games, pacing the league in goalscoring and breaking Colorado’s record for goals in November (10) set by Claude Lemieux in 1995. He was named the league’s third star for his play that month and has continued to have success since.

With the 2015-16 campaign more than halfway over, Duchene is on pace to finish the 82-game slate with 68 points (38 goals, 30 assists) if his current pace continues.

He leads the team in goals (21) and points (37-tied) through 43 games this year and is also first in the NHL in goals scored on the road (15-tied).


LANDESKOG STREAKING

Landeskog

With his assist on Duchene’s first second-period marker, Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog extended his current point streak to four games (two goals, two assists). Landeskog now has five points (two goals, three assists) in his last six matches and has points in 22 of Colorado’s 43 games played.

The longest the 23-year-old Swede has been held off the score sheet this season has been two consecutive contests (four times) since a four-game drought from Oct. 16-24, 2015.

He has 31 points (10 goals, 21 assist) in 39 games played this season, good for third on the club to date.


AVS VS. THE CENTRAL

Having awoken to find that they were officially sitting in the second wild card spot in the Western Conference, the Avs were certainly looking to continue topping teams in the Central Division when they took the ice Sunday night.

“They were the better team tonight. They were skating well. Their best players had a great night, and that’s what it is,” Roy said of the defeat. “Overall, they were the better team, that’s all.”

Despite the loss, the Avalanche still owns an outstanding record in the most important games of the season having gone 9-3-2 against division foes.

In fact, Colorado has a losing record with only two teams in the Central Division, the Minnesota Wild (1-2) and Chicago (1-1-1). The Avs are 7-0-1 against the rest.

The Avalanche has also done well on the road, taking a 12-9-0 record into Chicago that included four-straight victories in opposing buildings. Even though the visiting squad lost, Roy said it was bound to happen eventually.

“I could guarantee you one thing and promise you one thing: we’re going to lose another game on the road until the end of the year. It had to happen,” said Roy. “We had five wins in a row here. We were what, four or five in a row on the road—at least four. Our record on the road is good. We’ve been playing good hockey on the road. Tonight, we just played against a team that played really well.”


VARLAMOV TO START TUESDAY

A lot could change between now and Tuesday night, especially with practice scheduled for Monday at Family Sports Center in Centennial, Colorado, but it looks like Semyon Varlamov will get the start against the 2014-15 Stanley Cup runner-up Tampa Bay Lightning.

Varlamov

Netminder Calvin Pickard, serving a supporting role while regular backup Reto Berra out with an ankle injury, was originally scheduled to begin between the pipes.

“I was thinking about giving Varly a day off against Tampa Bay, and then the way the game was going [tonight], I said, ‘Maybe I’m going to give him his day off tonight and then he’ll play against Tampa Bay,’” Roy said. “We’re in the battle for a playoff spot. When we’re going to have nights like this, I’m just going to rest him, that’s all. Then put him back next game. We’re going to play him a lot, that’s all.”

Pickard played 22:11 in relief on Sunday night, turning aside 11 shots.

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