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Avalanche end homestand with win against Capitals

by Rick Sadowski

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche used goals from a couple of unlikely sources -- Patrick Bordeleau and Nick Holden -- along with strong work from their penalty-killing units and goalie Semyon Varlamov to defeat the Washington Capitals 4-1 on Sunday at Pepsi Center.

"I thought we had an outstanding performance from the entire team," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "I really like the commitment that our guys made. It was a great team effort again. We played as a team and our fans were part of our team tonight. They brought a lot of emotion to our team."

The Avalanche killed off three penalties in the third period, including a two-man disadvantage that lasted 56 seconds. The Capitals, who boast the NHL's top power play, went 0-for-4 with the man advantage for the game.

"I think our penalty killing has been very good since the start of the season," said defenseman Jan Hejda, whose 20:59 of ice time included 5:46 while shorthanded. "As a penalty-killing unit, we all believe that we can change a game. It usually helps the whole team. My feeling is, especially when you kill a five-on-three, it's the same as when we score a goal."

The Avalanche completed a four-game homestand with three wins and improved their Central Division-leading record to 14-2-0.

Varlamov, who made 40 saves in the Avalanche's 5-1 win in Washington on Oct. 12, stopped 33 shots in the rematch against his former team. Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green each had seven shots but were kept off the scoresheet.

"It was great, especially against my old team," said Varlamov, who has won nine of 11 starts this season. "It's always tough to play against Washington. They have so many good players, the best power play in the League, but I think we did a great job, and that's why we got a positive result.

"The guys did an unbelievable job for me. They blocked shots. This team, they're unbelievable right now, on the [penalty killing] especially. I appreciate what they're doing for me. We start this game very well, the guys give me confidence and scored a couple of good goals."

PA Parenteau gave the Avalanche some breathing room at 8:12 of the third period, shortly after they killed off back-to-back Capitals power plays. Matt Duchene held off Washington's Marcus Johansson behind the net and passed to Parenteau near the bottom of the right circle for a shot into the far corner of goalie Braden Holtby's net for a 3-1 lead.

Gabriel Landeskog put the game out of reach with 1:40 left in the third when he scored from the right circle after squeezing by Ovechkin along the boards at the Capitals blue line.

Holden, in the lineup because defenseman Ryan Wilson is sidelined with a back injury, scored his first NHL goal to break a 1-1 tie at 16:16 of the second period.

The goal came 28 seconds after Joel Ward scored for the Capitals to tie the game. Ward gained possession of the puck when it caromed off the end boards after Mikhail Grabovski won a draw in the right circle. Ward moved unchecked through the slot to chip it inside the left post at 15:48.

Holden, playing in his third game this season and the 10th of his career, was in the left circle when Landeskog passed to him from the side of the net. Holden took a wrist shot that beat Holtby to the far side.

"I closed my eyes and got lucky," Holden said. "It's nice that it was the game-winner, but does it make it any more special? I don't think so. Scoring my first NHL goal is a dream, and I'm glad we won the game.

"I think from start to finish we kind of took it to them. We came into the game where we wanted to get pucks deep and eliminate their offensive time, and I think we did a good job of doing that."

Varlamov and Holtby each made 15 saves in the period. Holtby poked the puck away from Ryan O'Reilly on a breakaway at 13:20 and made a save against John Mitchell on another breakaway at 14:40.

The Capitals had a huge scare at 17:34 of the second when Ovechkin fell awkwardly into the boards in the left corner of the Avalanche end while being checked by Hejda. Ovechkin lay on his stomach before getting to his skates. No penalty was called, and Ovechkin showed his displeasure with some angry words once he got to the bench.

"I think it was a trip," Ovechkin said. "Hit my head on the board. It was a clear two minutes and a dangerous play."

Not surprisingly, Hejda disagreed.

"He goes to the corner and I think the puck was under his legs," Hejda said. "I'm 100 percent sure I had my stick on the ice and he steps on my stick. He fell and then I fell over him. There wasn't any intent on this situation."

Ovechkin was also frustrated by the Capitals' inability to take advantage of the two-man advantage when a goal would have tied the game.

"It's all about five guys out there," he said. "We had our chances to score, but we didn't. Again, I think frustration moment. But again, this happens. We have to fight through it."

The Avalanche scored the only goal of the first period when Bordeleau deflected in Cody McLeod's high backhand shot for his fourth goal in 62 NHL games.

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