WASHINGTON—It wasn't the prettiest or most significant goal Colorado Avalanche forward Andreas Martinsen has ever scored in a game, but it is one that he will surely remember.
Martinsen entered the fraternity of NHLers to find the back of the net on Thursday night as he recorded his first career tally in the third period of a 7-3 loss to the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center. The left wing also joined an even more select group, becoming just the fifth Norwegian-born player to score in the top tier of the sport.
"It is kind of mixed feelings," Martinsen said. "It's a thing that you dream about when you're over here, but then in a game like this when it is 7-3, I could score two and it doesn't really matter. First one is out of the way. Hopefully the next one can make a difference and help us win."
A native of Baerum, Norway, Martinsen entered the game as only the eighth Norwegian-born player in NHL history. Martinsen and New York Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello are the only players from the Scandinavian country currently on league rosters.
The 25-year-old's first marker was a gritty goal, one that is expected of the 6-foot-3, 220-pound forward. Standing in front of the net, Martinsen redirected Zach Redmond's shot off his leg and past Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby with 8:08 left in regulation to make it a 6-3 game.
"I think it just hit me between the legs or something," Martinsen said.
"Probably in 10 years from now or 20 years from now, it's going to be, '[I] dangled a couple of guys and went top cheese.' It was an ugly one."
Ugly or not, the tally puts a bow on a busy two weeks for the Norwegian. After getting his first call-up from the San Antonio Rampage on Nov. 8, he made his NHL debut two nights later in Philadelphia. He recorded his first point with an assist last Saturday at Montreal and now has his first marker.
"In the future I can look back and [say], 'Hey, I scored,'" Martinsen said. "Hopefully it is not the only one I'll score. Hopefully I'll have some bigger goals coming up."
Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy shuffled his line combinations entering the game, which included moving Martinsen and Mikhail Grigorenko to a group with veteran goalscorer Jarome Iginla.
The trio had a tough start to the game as it was on the ice for two of Washington's first three goals. However, the three forwards seemed to get more comfortable with each other as the game went along and finished the night with a combined four shots on goal and 11 attempts—the most among Colorado's four lines.
"I thought after those two (goals against), we were out there. We were in their zone. We were on their D's. We were playing hard and taking pucks to the net," Martinsen said. "With some luck, we probably could have scored a couple more today, but it's just one of those games. We'll see who I will play with who next game, but if I'm in the lineup, I'll for sure keep going."
If Martinsen keeps playing his power-forward type game and helping create scoring chances like he did in the second half on Saturday night, there should be no reason why he wouldn't keep seeing valuable ice time.
VARLAMOV COULD RETURN IN WINNIPEG
Goaltender Semyon Varlamov is set to make his return in net after missing the last five games because of a groin injury.
Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy said after Saturday's morning skate that he thinks Varlamov will be available for Monday's contest in Winnipeg and hinted at the Russian's near return after the game versus Washington as well.
"It will be nice to have Varly back [in] the next game," Roy said after the Avs' loss to the Capitals.
Varlamov hurt his groin during morning skate on Nov. 10 in Philadelphia and was retroactively placed on the club's injured-reserve list last Sunday. He returned to the ice on Tuesday in Toronto and has practiced four other times since then.
Reto Berra has started the past seven games for Colorado. Varlamov last played Nov. 5 at Arizona.
DUCHENE KEEPS TRUCKING ALONG
Matt Duchene recorded an assist on Nathan MacKinnon's second-period goal on Saturday and extended his point streak to six games. He has 12 points (six goals and six assists) in his current stretch that began on Nov. 10 at Philadelphia, and now has 16 points (nine goals and seven assists) in 10 contests during the month of November.
Duchene's nine goals in the 11th month are the most since Joe Sakic accomplished the feat in 2000 and one shy of tying Claude Lemieux's Avalanche record of 10 set in 1995.
The helper against the Caps was also the 200th of Duchene's NHL career. He is the 13th player in franchise history to reach the two-century mark in assists.
On Thursday in Pittsburgh, Duchene scored twice to pass Hockey Hall of Fame forward Mats Sundin for 11th place on the franchise's scoring list (now 336 points) and 12th on its all-time goals list (136).