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Avalanche build big lead, hang on to defeat Jets

by Rick Sadowski /

DENVER -- Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog each had a goal and two assists, and the Colorado Avalanche held on for a 5-3 win against the Winnipeg Jets at Pepsi Center on Saturday.

Goalie Semyon Varlamov made 25 saves to help the Avalanche (9-13-1) win for the third time in 10 home games this season.

Duchene scored into an empty net on a power play with 16.4 seconds remaining for his 11th goal in November, breaking the Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques record he held with Claude Lemieux.

"It feels good," said Duchene, who had one goal in October. "Any time you're among some of the names that have played in this organization, it's nice. I didn't change much, some little changes I made since the start of the season, and I'm playing with two amazing hockey players in Gabe and Nate [MacKinnon]. So much credit goes to those guys."

Trailing 3-0 early in the second period, the Jets (11-12-2) closed to 3-2 on goals by Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler that came 4:32 apart.

Ladd scored at 9:05 when he tipped Jacob Trouba's point shot behind Varlamov. Wheeler scored while shorthanded at 13:37 with Anthony Peluso in the penalty box for tripping Landeskog. Alexander Burmistrov passed to Wheeler skating into the slot for a backhand shot past Varlamov's stick.

"We expected a push out of those guys," said Landeskog, who has two goals and six assists in a five-game scoring streak since returning from a two-game suspension for a hit on Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins on Nov. 12.

Avalanche rookie Chris Wagner put the Avalanche ahead 4-2 at 2:48 of the third period. He accepted Jack Skille's backhand pass and shot the puck behind goalie Michael Hutchinson off Jets defenseman Adam Pardy.

"They come back and make it a one-goal game, and we get a huge goal by [Wagner]," Landeskog said. "That's what you need from your third and fourth line, to chip in when the game's on the line and play well and be plus players."

It was Wagner's second NHL goal in 26 games. He scored his first Wednesday against the Ottawa Senators.

"We were battling down low, the puck kind of squirted out, Skille won a race for it and made a nice backhand pass," Wagner said. "I just threw it on the net as hard as I could, and we got a nice bounce off the [defenseman] there."

Winnipeg cut the deficit to 4-3 on Trouba's goal at 10:54. He spun around Colorado's Blake Comeau above the left circle, moved in and scored through traffic for his second goal of the season and first in eight games.

The Jets, who defeated the Minnesota Wild 3-1 on Friday, went 1-2-0 on their three-game road trip. They are 1-6-1 in their past eight road games.

"All I'll say about the game is our team gave what it had to give," Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said. "It wasn't an easy start, it's not an easy game to get rolling. They're at home, they're rolling, they were good in the start. I don't think we were casual about our game, we just couldn't get it going. [The Jets] skated as hard as they could and they played as hard as they could, and we just couldn't catch up."

The Avalanche took a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Comeau and Landeskog, who scored 4:26 apart.

Comeau, who has scored all three of his goals in the past seven games, knocked Pardy off the puck at center ice, gained possession and beat Hutchinson on a breakaway at 6:35.

Landeskog made it 2-0 at 11:01 after Francois Beauchemin dumped the puck off the end boards. The puck caromed toward the side of the net off Duchene into the slot, and Landeskog drilled it past Hutchinson.

"We didn't have the legs we needed to compete at that level in the first period," Maurice said. "It's still not a lopsided period, but we gave up a couple of good chances, and they scored on them. They certainly were in control of the game."

Carl Soderberg scored at 5:55 of the second period to give the Avalanche a 3-0 lead. Duchene passed to Soderberg skating down the slot. He cut to the right and tucked the puck inside the post.

"It just feels like it always has to be the hard way for us, but I like what I'm seeing," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "I like the resilience of our guys. The compete level tonight ... [the Jets] are a good hockey club."

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