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Stastny Propels Avs To Crucial 4-1 Victory

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche
Paul Stastny’s two-goal game couldn’t have come at a better time and against a better opponent.

Stastny matched a season high for goals in a game and helped the Colorado Avalanche to a 4-1 victory on Wednesday night versus the Los Angeles Kings at Pepsi Center.
The win puts Colorado just two points behind the Kings for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“From start to finish, we played our game and we didn’t sit back after we got up 3-0,” Stastny said. “With big points at stake, sometimes you sit back and play a little defensive, which we didn’t.”
The two goals by Stastny gives him 16 for the season, surpassing Ryan O’Reilly and Gabriel Landeskog (15) for the team lead. His last two-goal game came on Dec. 15 at San Jose.
Colorado is 13-2-0 all-time when Stastny scores two or more goals.
After Mark Olver opened the scoring for the Avs, Stastny picked up his first tally of the night on a Kings turnover behind their own net at 13:04 of the first period. Los Angeles’ Kyle Clifford attempted to whip the puck around the end-wall, but Stastny intercepted it halfway and than beat Jonathan Quick with a wraparound shot.
His second goal came with 7:15 left in the second period. Stastny left a drop pass to Gabriel Landeskog, who drove to the net and fired a close shot on Jonathan Bernier (who replaced Quick at the start of the second period). The rebound came out to Stastny, and the Avs forward chipped the puck into the back of the cage while falling down.
Matt Duchene joined Landeskog by picking up an assist on Stastny’s second goal. It was Duchene’s first point since missing 20 games with a knee injury.
“Dutchy is starting to get his timing back,” Stastny said of Duchene. “He has been out for seven weeks so he’s not going to be his self the first and second game. But every time we go out there, he gets more timing, more chances and he’s getting more comfortable.”
Jay McClement capped off the first period for the Avs with his eighth goal of the year with 2:38 remaining in the stanza. It was Colorado’s third game this season in which they scored three times in the opening period.
Colorado sweeps the season series over Los Angeles, after the Kings did the same to the Avs in the 2010-11 campaign
The Avalanche now head out on the road for two games, before returning to Pepsi Center on Monday to host the Anaheim Ducks. Colorado will be in Columbus on Friday and Detroit on Saturday.
New Career High For Varly
Colorado goaltender Semyon Varlamov made 32 saves for his 16th win of the season, setting a new career high.
“I just wanted to do my best,” Varlamov said. “I didn’t play that well last game, and this game versus L.A. was very important with us four points out of a playoff spot.”
His previous high for wins in a season was 15, coming in the 2009-10 season with the Washington Capitals.
Los Angeles had two chances to get back in the game in the second period, but Varlamov made two spectacular saves to keep Colorado up by three goals.
The first came at 5:55 of the period, when Varlamov made a glove save on a point-blank shot by Dwight King. The second came nearly five minutes later when he stretched out his left pad to deny an Anze Kopitar breakaway attempt.
Varlamov credited his teammates in front of him for allowing him to pick up his third win of the season against the Kings.
“Honestly, the guys helped me out by clearing out rebounds,” Varlamov said. “It was a tough game and it was against a very good team.”
Downie Excited To Be An Av
In his first game in an Avalanche uniform, forward Steve Downie said he could have played better.
“I didn’t play to my full potential, but I have some time to get settled in and I’m looking forward to the future,” said Downie, who arrived in Denver at around midnight late Tuesday.
“I haven’t slept much. Last night I was so excited.”
Downie finished his first game in Colorado with two hits, two takeaways, two penalty minutes and was a physical presence on the ice.
He was acquired on Tuesday from Tampa Bay, in exchange for defenseman Kyle Quincey. Through 55 games with the Lightning, Downie had picked up 12 goals and 16 assists (28 points) and amassed 121 penalty minutes.
Downie was in the starting lineup against the Kings and was on a forward line with Ryan O’Reilly and Gabriel Landeskog.
So Far, Not Bad For Olver
Mark Olver picked up his third point in as many games with the contest’s first goal at 7:04 of the first period. After helping Daniel Winnik fight for the puck in the Kings’ left corner, Olver made his way to the circle, received a good pass from David Jones, and fired a shot over Quick’s shoulder.
“It’s has been a little up and down,” Olver said of his first three games in the NHL this season. “In Edmonton, I played really well and in Winnipeg, I think I kind of fell out. Tonight, I think I had a couple of good periods. I have to regroup for Columbus.”
Olver, who has two goals and one assist in the NHL this season, was recalled from Lake Erie on Feb. 16, where he had nine points (two goals and seven assists) in 15 games. He missed the first 41 games of the season while on the Avs’ injured reserve list with a head injury.
The Burnaby, B.C., native appeared in 18 games last season with Colorado, totaling two goals and seven assists for nine points.
More Notes

Colorado won all four meetings against Los Angeles this year, sweeping the season series for the first time since the Avalanche moved to Denver in 1995…This came just a year after Los Angeles swept the 2010-11 season series.
The Avs have won three straight home games and are 3-0-1 in their last four on home ice.
Semyon Varlamov finished 3-0 with a 1.30 goals-against average and .959 save percentage in three starts against Los Angeles this year (185 minutes, 97 shots, 4 goals).
With three goals in the opening frame tonight, the Avalanche matched their highest-scoring first period of the season…Colorado also scored three times in the first period on Nov. 15 at Pittsburgh and Nov. 30 vs. New Jersey.
Gabriel Landeskog has points in three straight games (2g/2a) and six of his last seven contests (4g/3a).
Jay McClement scored his eighth goal of the season, one more than he had all of last year with St. Louis and Colorado.
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