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Top Line Responds Against Wild

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

With the Minnesota Wild having just scored two goals to take a 3-2 lead in the third period, the Avalanche needed a response and they needed it quickly as time in regulation was dwindling down.

Colorado got that response 46 seconds later and from their top forward line of Matt Duchene, PA Parenteau and Jamie McGinn.

“It didn’t have to happen on that shift, but fortunately we got it done,” said Duchene, who scored the tying goal with 7:18 left in the stanza. “It was tough to have a 2-1 lead and give it up, but we were able to get out, have a good shift in their end and get one.”

Duchene’s fourth tally of the season wasn’t the prettiest of goals, but it had a tad bit of creativity and was a fitting end for a hard working shift by the Avalanche.

After a shot by Shane O’Brien was deflected in front, Parenteau pushed the puck behind the end line where Duchene grabbed it, went around the net and banked it off Jared Spurgeon and into the back of the cage.

“It was a big shift for us. We needed a response and Duchene’s line went out there and they answered for us,” said Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco. “When you get in a situation like that, when you battle all game long, and when you have one of your top lines come out and send that type of message to the team, that’s good.”

It was the second straight game in which Duchene scored and it was his sixth point in as many games.

He found the back of the net later in the contest as he scored in the second round of the shootout to end the game and give Colorado a 4-3 victory. Duchene aimed for the top part of the net and wristed a laser over Niklas Backstrom’s right shoulder.

“Originally I was thinking of shooting five-hole, but it was one of those plays where you come in and take what he gives you and try and hit the corner,” Duchene said. “He is a great goalie. He’s really patient so I didn’t want to deke him.”

Yet while his shootout goal ended the night, it was the one that showed the effort of his line that was the sticking point for Duchene.

“Moments like when we scored that last one [to tie it]. That is what you need to try and do when your team needs you,” he said. “Our line was able to get it done.”

Another Milestone For The Birthday-Boy

On his 37th birthday, it was Milan Hejduk that was giving presents to his teammates.

The veteran right wing scored on the power play late in the second period and then tallied the winner in the shootout to help the Avalanche pick up the win over its Northwest Division rival.

His goal in the middle stanza came after a shot by McGinn rebounded to him at the circle and he wristed the puck over the shoulder of the Minnesota goalie to give Colorado a 2-1 lead.

It was Hejduk’s second goal of the season and marked his 800th career NHL point.

“He was really good tonight,” Sacco said of Hejduk. “The power play, we have been searching for some goals and he was able to deliver one for us there.”

The point makes the Czech Republic native the fourth player in franchise history and the second in Avalanche history to surpass 800 points. He joins Joe Sakic (1,641), Peter Stastny (1,048) and Michel Goulet (945) on the franchise list.

He also becomes just the third Czech-born player in NHL history to reach 800 points, joining Jaromir Jagr (1,662) and Patrik Elias (909).

“It definitely feels great, but at this point in the middle of the season I’m really not looking at the stats too much,” Hejduk said during the second intermission. “I’m going game-by-game, trying to help out the team. Obviously it was a big goal for us.”

It was the second time in five games that Hejduk had scored on his birthday. He last did it as a rookie on Feb. 14, 1999 against Philadelphia.

Making An Impact

The puck from Aaron Palushaj’s first NHL goal is sitting in his basement back at his home. It’s almost a sure bet that a second puck will be added next to it in the near future.

Aaron Palushaj

Palushaj scored his second career goal and his first in an Avalanche uniform to open the game’s scoring in the second period.

His tally came after David Jones received a pass from Paul Stastny along the left wing wall and fed it to the middle of the slot where Palushaj knocked into the net.

“It was an unbelievable play,” Palushaj said. “It started in our zone and we hustled to get the puck out. Stastny made a nice chip to Jonesy and he found me back door. All I had to do was put it up and it was a beautiful pass.”

Palushaj’s score came in his second game with the Avs after he was claimed off waivers from Montreal on Feb. 5. He had appeared in 41 career games over the last two seasons with the Canadiens.

More Notes

-Tyson Barrie picked up his first career point by assisting on Milan Hejduk’s second period goal.

-Goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 26 saves and stopped both shooters in the shootout for his second win of the season. He is two victories shy of tying Hall-of-Famer Johnny Bower (250) for 45th place on the all-time list.

-Milan Hejduk is now 25-of-59 (42.4 percent) all-time in shootouts with 12 game deciding goals.

-PA Parenteau skated in his 200th career NHL game.

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