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The Power Of One

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche
There are none better in the league in one-goal games than the Colorado Avalanche.

The Avs did it again on Thursday night at Pepsi Center, defeating the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 for the team’s 14th one-goal victory.
“When the games are tight, we come out with our best and are pretty confident,” said defenseman Stefan Elliott, who had his fourth goal of the season in the contest.
The Avs are now 14-5-1 in one-goal games and are 6-1-0 in their last seven that are decided by a single goal. Colorado now ranks first in one-goal victories in the league, surpassing New Jersey (13-4-1) who had the night off.
Colorado has 11 players who have scored game-winning goals this season, and tonight Gabriel Landeskog was the hero.
With 10:50 left in the game, Landeskog positioned himself two feet to the left of the crease, waited for the puck and used a wrist shot to beat Coyotes goaltender Jason LaBarbera.
Chuck Kobasew did a great job in staying with it there. I was just trying to get it on net and it went in five-hole,” said Landeskog, who finished with two points, also assisting on Kevin Porter’s goal in the first period.
The tally was Landeskog’s second game winner of the season, moving him into a three-way tie in that category with Matt Duchene and T.J. Galiardi.
It was also the rookie’s second goal in three games and sixth point in his last seven contests.
The victory improves Colorado’s record to 20-18-1 (41 points) and puts the Avs one point out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. The win was the team’s seventh in the last nine games and eighth at Pepsi Center in December, matching the franchise record for home wins in a single month. The Avalanche also went 8-1-0 at home in March 2008.
Colorado now heads out on the road for four straight games beginning with a New Year’s Eve tilt against the Anaheim Ducks at 6 p.m. MT.
“You always want to finish strong at home before going on a long road trip,” Landeskog said. “We really owed our fans this one after the last game against Winnipeg.”
The Avs have played 15 of their last 20 games on home ice.
Varly Solid
While on paper, Semyon Varlamov’s 25 saves may not seem noteworthy, but the goaltender’s play kept the Avalanche in the game early on.
“He's so steady back there and he makes big saves when needed,” Landeskog said. “We really fed off him.”
Varlamov faced only 12 shots through the first two periods (five in the first and seven in the second) and said it was difficult getting into a rhythm.
“I only faced 12 shots the first two periods and it's hard to have confidence when you don’t have shots,” Varlamov said. “They played very hard in the third and I thought we played pretty well defensively. The guys helped me a lot by clearing away rebounds.”
Phoenix fired 15 shots on Varlamov in the third, but the Russian goalie stood tall – with his defense helping a bit as well.
“We did a good job in keeping it simple in our own end – [moving] our feet and making plays,” Elliott said of how the defense helped Varlamov. “We know he's going to make the first stop and we'll clear out the other ones.”

It was Varlamov’s 26th start of the season (a new career high) and fifth-straight home win. It was also his 12th win of the season, which surpasses his victory total from a year ago with Washington.
O’Reilly vs. O’Reilly – Part 2
Ryan O’Reilly had only played his older brother Cal, 25, once before in the NHL. Thursday night was the second game.
The two brothers’ only meeting came on Feb. 4, 2010, when Cal was a member of the Nashville Predators.  Neither had tremendous nights in that game, as the O’Reilly brothers both finished with a minus-1 rating and each won 33-percent of the faceoffs they took. However, Cal had the bragging rights as the Predators won 5-3.
Game 2 turned out to be similar as Game 1, with both finishing the night with a minus-1 rating. While Ryan finished without a shot, Cal did fire the puck once onto Varlamov, but it seemed like the younger brother had the bigger impact with three takeaways. Coming into the contest, Ryan was leading the entire NHL with 52 takeaways.
Winner of Game 2? Ryan takes it, tying the sibling series at 1-1.
Porter Finds Twine In Second Consecutive Game
Colorado’s first goal of the contest came from an unlikely source, Kevin Porter.
Racing up the slot, Porter received a pass from Paul Stastny along the left wing wall, and tipped the puck past Jason LaBarbera at 7:44 of the first period.
Porter had been serving a bench minor for too-many men on the ice and had left the penalty box 18 seconds prior to his goal.
The goal was the Detroit native’s second in as many games and third of the season.
More Notes
The Avalanche finished 8-1-0 at Pepsi Center this month, matching its franchise record for most home wins in a single month…The Avalanche also won eight home games in March of 2008 (8-1-0).
Month                             Record                      
December 2011       8          8-1-0
March 2008              8          8-1-0
November 2000       7          7-0-1-0
January 2006           7          7-1-2
February 1996         7          7-1-1
March 1995              7          7-0-1
The Avs have won nine of their last 10 home games, which included a streak of eight consecutive home wins from Nov. 30 to Dec. 23.
Tonight was Colorado’s 23rd home game of the year, two more than any other team in the NHL…This evening’s contest was the end of a stretch that had the Avalanche playing 15-of-20 on home ice.
Gabriel Landeskog equaled his season high with two points, his fourth multi-point game…The rookie forward scored his second game-winning goal of the season, which is tied for the club lead.
Semyon Varlamov made his 26th start of the season, a new career high…His previous high was 25 starts with the Capitals last year…Varly is now just one appearance shy of tying his career best in games played (27 in 2010-11).
Varlamov has won five consecutive home starts…Tonight was his 12th win of the season, one more than he had last year, and three short of his career high set in 2009-10.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson was unsuccessful on his penalty-shot attempt in the second period…It was the second attempt by a Coyotes player this season (Lauri Korpikoski scored on Nov. 21 at Washington).
Varlamov has yet to allow a goal in three career penalty-shot attempts against.
Mikkel Boedker tied his career high with two goals, his second career multi-goal game…He also lit the lamp twice on Nov. 8, 2008 vs. Florida.
Stefan Elliott scored his fourth goal of the season, tying Jan Hejda for the most by an Avalanche defenseman this year.
Matt Duchene appeared in his 200th NHL game before leaving the game due to a knee injury.
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