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Avalanche end power-play drought, top Stars

by Rick Sadowski / NHL.com

DENVER -- It took a shakeup by coach Patrick Roy to get a dormant power play going and it finally came to life for the Colorado Avalanche, who scored twice with the man advantage in the third period in a 5-2 win against the Dallas Stars at Pepsi Center on Saturday.

Unhappy with the Avalanche's first three power plays, Roy kept his high-scoring forwards on the bench in favor of role players Maxime Talbot, Marc-Andre Cliche and Daniel Briere for a man advantage midway through the second period of a 2-2 game.

They didn't score but produced four shots and the message had been sent.

"Our power play was brutal and Patty put out our fourth line and they did a great job," Matt Duchene said. "They should have actually scored there."

Duchene set up Alex Tanguay's tie-breaking goal with two minutes remaining in the period before he and Gabriel Landeskog scored on back-to-back power plays early in the third to break the game open.

"Obviously we were unhappy with the power play," Roy said. "In the second [period] it took the momentum away from us and we put those guys out there and they had great chances and gave us the momentum back. It's kind of funny when you do this and we score two power-play goals right after. I guess it worked this time. It's the last thing I want to do."

Duchene scored from the right circle at 46 seconds of the third period and Landeskog followed when he knocked in the rebound of Tanguay's shot on a 5-on-3 advantage at 3:45.

Duchene's goal broke power-play slumps of 0-for-15 covering parts of six games and 1-for-35 in a 12-game stretch.

"It wasn’t for lack of trying, we just weren't executing," Duchene said. "It's been tough. A lot of us haven't gotten a lot of goals or points on the power play. It kind of shakes things up a little bit. We changed our power play a little bit and hopefully we can keep it going."

The Avalanche outshot the Stars, who played Friday, 33-13 through two periods and 47-24 for the game.

"We outskated them tonight," Duchene said. "They played [Friday] night and it's tough coming to altitude and playing against us. We're a fast team when we're playing like that. It's nice to put five on the board like that."

Tanguay had a goal and two assists, Duchene and Landeskog each had a goal and an assist and Tyson Barrie had three assists.

The win was the first for the Avalanche in six games (1-3-2) against Central Division opponents. The Stars remained winless (0-6-3) against division teams.

"I thought we were totally embarrassed today," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "What we did with the puck and how many giveaways and how many turnovers, it was pathetic. We've got to wipe it clean. Look at what is ahead of us. I don't buy back-to-back games or lack of energy. Our effort wasn't good enough. We got outworked."

The Avalanche had the final 14 shots of the second period and broke a 2-2 tie when Duchene controlled the puck behind the net and fed Tanguay in the left circle for a shot that beat goalie Anders Lindback to the short side.

"Patty shook us up a little bit in the second period and finally in the third we were able to capitalize on our chances," Tanguay said. "It feels good. We've been working extremely hard and we've won five of our last seven games and we feel like we're playing better."

Rookie goalie Calvin Pickard wasn't tested much, but he finished with 22 saves for his third win in his past four decisions. The only setback in this stretch came Wednesday when he made a career-high 42 saves in a 3-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

"We knew they have a lot of skill up front and I thought our defense shut them down completely and limited their chances," Pickard said of the Stars. "We completely dominated them in the second period. There was a span of about 10 minutes where I never touched the puck."

Pickard is competing with Reto Berra, who has been struggling, for the backup role behind Semyon Varlamov, who missed his fifth consecutive game because of a groin injury but could play Monday against the Montreal Canadiens.

"I can't worry about that stuff, I just want to go out whenever I get an opportunity and play my game and get more comfortable," Pickard said. "It's totally out of my control. But definitely these last few games have given me confidence to definitely be able to play and to stick at this level."

Roy said he would get together with Joe Sakic, the Avalanche's executive vice president and general manager, to discuss the goalie situation. He said Pickard, 22, needs to play "a lot" to continue his development, something that won't happen in Colorado once Varlamov is healthy.

"Sometimes you need to be patient, you have to let them play games," Roy said. "The reason he's playing well is because he's playing a lot."

A sloppy first period ended in a 2-2 tie.

Cody Eakin and Patrick Eaves scored for the Stars; Daniel Briere and Jarome Iginla scored for the Avalanche. Iginla converted Landeskog's crossing pass at 16:30 for the 564th goal of his NHL career, tying him with Joe Nieuwendyk and Mats Sundin for 21st place on the all-time list.

Avalanche center John Mitchell re-aggravated a leg injury in the first period that caused him to miss the previous three games and didn't return. Cliche left in the second period because of an undisclosed injury and returned for one shift in the third.

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