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No-Quit Attitude For Avs in Win Over Coyotes

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche had been in this position before.

Colorado lost a two-goal lead Nov. 1 in Dallas but stayed the course and picked up the victory in overtime.

The Avs faced a similar situation Thursday as the Phoenix Coyotes came back from being down by two goals and took the lead in the third period.

But like that game in Texas earlier in the month, the Avs didn't get down on themselves. They kept working and found a way to tie the game late in the third period and then won it in overtime with a power play goal.

"I think it showed a lot of character," Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy said. "It would have been easy for us to feel sorry for ourselves when they took the lead 3-2, but I thought our guys were resilient again and found a way to score that tying goal. Obviously, in overtime we took advantage of our power play."

Cody McLeod scored the tying goal off a rebound with 3:14 remaining, and Ryan O'Reilly scored the winner in the final minute of OT.

"That was a character win for us," O'Reilly said. "Unfortunately, we gave up two goals in the third, which you never want to do, but we stuck with it and we kept the pressure on."

The winning tally came after O'Reilly brought the puck into the Phoenix zone and dumped it off to PA Parenteau at the left circle. Parenteau then moved to the slot before passing the puck back to O'Reilly, who set up his shot before firing a snap shot past goalie Mike Smith.

O'Reilly now has nine points (six goals, three assists) in his last nine games and is on a four-game point streak (three goals, two assists).

"I think on 4-on-3 you have to be creative, you have to create your opportunities," O'Reilly said of the winning-scoring sequence. "That play, I just wanted to get it in the zone and threw it over to PA to generate something. It came back to me, and I just thought I had to go about and get a shot. Luckily it went in."

The Avalanche held a 2-0 lead in the second period, but the Coyotes scored at the end of the middle stanza to get some momentum going into the third. Phoenix came out strong in the final period, having several close-call goals before eventually scoring twice to take the lead.

But Colorado stayed the course and McLeod tied the contest after Andre Benoit's shot from the point rebounded off Smith and to the low slot. McLeod picked up the loose puck and swooped a backhand shot into the cage.

"[The Coyotes] were solid in the third. They were faster than us on the puck, they were jumping on the loose puck, but we found a way to win," Roy said. "McLeod scored a big goal for us. That was a big play by Benoit to put it on net, and Cody was there and put it in the back of the net. That was a big play for us.

In the end [Phoenix] isn't an easy team to play against—it's a very good team, probably one of the best in the NHL—I thought our guys did a really good job coming here and winning that hockey game."


Defenseman Andre Benoit was a key player for the Avalanche Thursday against the Coyotes.

He scored his first goal of the season in the second period and then had assists on the game-tying goal and on the game-winning goal in overtime.

Benoit's score came after he denied a Coyotes clearing attempt at the top of the slot and shot the puck toward the net. The puck rang off the post and rebounded off the back of Phoenix goalie Mike Smith before it finally settled into the cage.

"[Gabriel] Landeskog had a great screen in front of the net so it was tough for their goalie to see it," Benoit said. "When there is a screen like that you just have to hit the spot."

He earned the primary assist on the tying goal after McLeod scored off the rebound.

Benoit's three-point game set a new career high. He leads all Avs defensemen in points with 11 (one goal, 10 assists) this season.


Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy said Tuesday morning that Matt Duchene would probably make this road trip and might play Saturday in Los Angeles. Duchene suffered an oblique injury last Saturday against Florida.

However, Roy changed his tune on Wednesday after the team's practice at Family Sports Center in Centennial. Duchene skated before practice, but Roy and head athletic trainer Matt Sokolowski decided to not take Duchene on the trip.

Roy said the team wants to make sure Duchene is fully healthy before he plays again.

“He wanted to play [tonight], but he realized there was no way he could play,” Roy said. “We need him 100 percent, not 80 or 95 percent, even if he’d be a great player for us at that level. I think it is important for him to make sure that he takes care of himself and be 100 percent when he comes back.”

Duchene leads Colorado in goals (12) and points (20).


While the Avalanche is out west taking on Phoenix and Los Angeles, another hockey team was representing the organization out east.

Colorado Sled Hockey is representing the Avs this weekend in Pittsburgh, Penn., at the fourth annual USA Hockey Sled Classic, presented by the National Hockey League.

The Avalanche team is one of 16 squads affiliated with an NHL club. Colorado defeated the host Pittsburgh Penguins 5-4 on Thursday.

The Avs Sled Hockey Team hosted and won the inaugural event in 2010.

Also, the Avalanche's 2013 Quebec Qualifier Pee-Wee Tournament began on Thursday with Boulder and Northern Colorado facing each other in first round action at the Ice Centre at the Promenade in Westminster.

Other teams participating in this year's tournament for 13 and 14 year olds are Arapahoe, Arvada, Colorado Rampage, Foothills, Hyland Hills, Littleton and the Jr. Pioneers. The winner of the tournament will get an all-expenses-paid trip and represent the Avalanche organization at the 2014 Quebec International Pee-Wee Tournament in February.

The Arapahoe Ice Warriors won last year's qualifier tournament and went on to help the Avalanche win the Quebec tournament for the first time.

The quarterfinal and semifinal games of the qualifier tournament will be at Pepsi Center on Sunday and the championship game will be on Avs' home ice on Tuesday.


-John Mitchell and Cody McLeod each scored for the second game in a row.

-Ryan O'Reilly has nine points (six goals, three assists) in his last nine games. He is on a four-game point streak (three goals, two assists).

-PA Parenteau is on a three-game point streak (one goal, three assists).

-The Avalanche is 14-0-0 when scoring the first goal this season. Colorado is the NHL's only unbeaten team when scoring first.

-Colorado improves to 2-0 in overtime in 2013-14.

-Defenseman Matt Hunwick was reassigned to AHL Lake Erie Wednesday after being recalled from the Monsters on Nov. 4. He played Saturday night against Florida.

-Thursday game was the first of three contests this season between the Avalanche and the Coyotes, but it was the only game that was going to be played at Arena in Glendale, Ariz. The clubs will play in Denver Dec. 10 and Feb. 28.

-Nick Holden was Colorado's only healthy scratch of the game.

-Patrick Roy has yet to announce his starting goalie for Saturday's game against Los Angeles. Avalanche goaltending coach Francois Allaire is on the road trip and Roy had said he wanted to talk with Allaire after Thursday's game before making a decision.

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