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Elliott Sticks With It And Is Rewarded

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

In a two-week span, Colorado Avalanche defenseman Stefan Elliott thought he had scored his first goal of the season three different times. But each time he had to settle with an assist as one of his teammates tipped his shot into the net.

On Friday night against the Phoenix Coyotes, Elliott finally got his first goal of the year and it wasn’t tipped in – unless both posts count after he rocketed a shot from the right circle off of the far iron and then the near one before the puck settled into the cage.

Defenseman Stefan Elliott celebrates after scoring on Friday at Phoenix.

“I think I just saw an opening,” Elliott said of his goal. “Dutchy made a nice play ahead to me, right in the middle, and I was fortunate enough to put it in.”

At the right-wing wall, Matt Duchene received the puck from the PA Parenteau at the blue line and quickly moved it to the center of the ice where Elliott was all alone and had space. The defenseman fired the puck past Coyotes goalie Mike Smith and off both posts for his first score since Dec. 29, 2011 against Phoenix.

Elliott had four goals and nine assists (13 points) in 39 games last season as a rookie, but he had struggled offensively at the start of this season with zero points in his first 10 games.

However, it appears as though he is starting to get some confidence as an offensive-minded D-man as he now has four points in the last seven contests.

“I think every game I’ve been more and more comfortable,” he said. “I think that is what it is all about, getting more comfortable and playing with confidence.”

His goal at 13:45 of the first period also came at a crucial time for Colorado. With the Avalanche down 2-0 early in the period, Elliott’s tally ignited a run of three unanswered goals in a 4:07 time span.

“I think we came out pretty flat,” Elliott said during the first intermission. “It is our second to last game of the year here and we wanted to come out hard and prove everyone and play for pride and play for each other.”

The 22-year-old from Vancouver, British Columbia thought he had scored his first goal of 2013 15 days earlier during the Avalanche’s April 11 game in Los Angeles. In the third period of that contest, Elliott fired a shot from the point that made its way through traffic but hit the toe of Patrick Bordeleau’s stick before going into the cage to tie the game at 2-2.

Four days later against Columbus, Elliott threw the puck on net from the high slot, but it deflected off Jamie McGinn to give the Avs a lead late in the game.

The final assist was last Sunday at home versus St. Louis as his backhand shot in the slot just found the shaft of Cody McLeod’s stick and was defected into the cage in the first period.

While he wasn’t able to score on any of his three previous points, Elliott was finally able to celebrate a goal with his teammates on Friday.

“I think I was due here so it was nice to get that one,” he said.

A Helping Of Duchene: A big reason why Colorado beat Phoenix on Friday was because of the play of Matt Duchene.

Duchene had assists on three of the Avs’ four goals in regulation and then scored the deciding goal in the shootout to help lift Colorado to the 5-4 victory.

His three assists tied a career-high and was just his second three-assist game of his career. His first three-assist game came earlier this season on March 8 against Chicago when he had a goal and three assists versus the Blackhawks.

Another Goal For Bordy: Patrick Bordeleau scored his second-career NHL goal in the first period against the Coyotes, which gave the Avs a 3-2 lead. It was a little prettier then his first tally, which came on a tip on April 11 at the Kings. His goal on Friday came on a hard working play in which he set-up in front of the net and backhanded a rebound past Mike Smith’s left pad with 2:08 left in the stanza.

First Point As An Av: Tomas Vincour picked up his first point in his second game in an Avalanche uniform. Vincour, who was acquired in a trade on April 2 from Dallas, made his Colorado debut on Tuesday in St. Louis. He assisted on Bordeleau’s goal of Friday.

Coming Down To The Wire: With one regular season game remaining, the team-scoring race is tied as Matt Duchene (17 goals and 26 assists) and PA Parenteau (18 goals and 25 assists) each have 43 points. Duchene had three assists against the Coyotes while Parenteau had a goal and an assist.

Duchene led the Avalanche in scoring in 2010-11 with 67 points (27 goals and 40 assists) in 80 games. Parenteau has never led his team in scoring in his four previous NHL campaigns, but he did finish tied for second in 2010-11 (53 points) and third last season (67 points).

Injury Update: Goaltender Semyon Varlamov finished the game in net for Colorado after Jean-Sebastien Giguere left the contest with a groin injury with 4:16 remaining. If Giguere can’t play on Saturday against the Wild, then Varlamov will most likely get the start with Calvin Pickard backing him up.

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