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Avalanche top Coyotes in shootout

by Jerry Brown

GLENDALE, Ariz. – In their last road game, Colorado Avalanche finally got starting goalie Semyon Varlamov his first win away from home this season.

All it took was a rally, an injury and a shootout to get it done.

Matt Duchene had three assists and joined PA Parenteau with a goal in the shootout as the Avalanche outlasted the Phoenix Coyotes for a 5-4 victory Friday in a battle of non-playoff teams.

Varlamov, who was 0-14-2 on the road for a team that finished 4-16-4 away from Pepsi Center, stopped all six shots he saw after starter Jean-Sebastien Giguere left with a groin injury with 4:16 left in regulation. All of the saves came in overtime, when the Coyotes outshot Colorado 6-1 and made their bid to win the game. Varlamov stopped Mikkel Boedker and Radim Vrbata in the shootout while Duchene and Parenteau solved Phoenix goalie Mike Smith, who let an early two-goal lead get away.

"We have played well in front of [Varlamov], especially on the road, so for us to get him that first win is pretty exciting," Duchene said. "You don't want to go a whole year without a road win, even if it's half a season. He's been awesome and we've let him down a few times, so it was nice to get it for him."

Colorado's Stefan Elliott, Parenteau and Patrick Bordeleau wiped out an early 2-0 deficit with goals 4:07 apart in the first period as the Avalanche won only their fourth road game all season (4-16-4). Ryan O'Reilly snapped a 3-3 tie with a power-play goal in the final minute of the second period for Colorado, but the Avalanche couldn't hold the lead.

Antoine Vermette scored twice for Phoenix, and his second of the scored night 5:56 into the third period tied the game at 4-4. David Schlemko and Rob Klinkhammer also scored for the Coyotes, who finished 14-8-2 on home ice this season but, like the Avalanche, weren't nearly as good on the road.

Keith Yandle added three assists for Phoenix as the two teams gave 16,011 fans a good show in the Coyotes' home finale. But it wasn't the kind of game coach Dave Tippett enjoyed watching.

"Game like that one have no meaning," Tippett said. "Even in an exhibition game, you can evaluate players, but here you're just playing. It's entertainment, good for the fans, lot of action. But I wouldn't put that up there as a hard, tactical game."

Smith and the Coyotes shut out Colorado 4-0 here on April 6 and looked like they were on their way again Friday after they scored two goals on their first four shots against Giguere.

Schlemko walked a Kyle Chipchura pass around Parenteau and into the slot before taking advantage of a Paul Bissonnette screen to whip a wrist shot past Giguere at 3:17. It was Schlemko's first regular-season goal in 72 games, dating back to Oct. 13, 2011, in Nashville.

"It feels like … finally!" Schlemko said. "It was good to see one finally go in. The building was great tonight, lots of energy. Our fans have been great all year, especially after the lockout and with all the rumors [about the team leaving] over the last four years. We definitely appreciate all the support."

Phoenix made it 2-0 at 8:45 with a nifty transition goal. Smith made a big save on John Mitchell and the puck popped into air before Yandle corralled it and headed the other way. He dropped a pass for Vermette in the slot, and Vermette's shot through traffic beat Giguere between the pads to give the Coyotes a full head of steam.

Colorado, who came into the game with nine losses in its past 11 games at Arena, was on the run again. But they found a way to stop the bleeding.

"We've had some tough nights in this building, and when they got the second goal you are kind of like ‘Oh no, here we go again,' "Duchene said. "But we were able to hang in there and keep fighting and getting the next goal was huge."

The Avalanche owned the rest of the period, scoring three times to flip the game.

With the team skating 4-on-4, Elliott jumped into the play and put a Duchene feed off the crossbar and into the net for his first goal of the season. Just 1:07 later, Parenteau took advantage of a Schlemko hooking penalty to surprise Smith with a shot aided by a Cody McLeod screen to tie the game.

Exactly one minute later, Duchene and Bordeleau pounced on a Tomas Vincour rebound in the crease and kept whacking away until Bordeleau nudged the puck past Smith at 17:52 to give Colorado their first lead of the game.

"I thought we showed great resiliency there after the slow start in the first period," Colorado coach Joe Sacco said. "It was a good test of character and we responded. It was an open game and for us to end on the road where we've struggled all year really feels good."

The Coyotes came out harder in the second but needed some luck on the power play to get the game even. With Bordeleau in the box for slashing, Klinkhammer fired a puck from the left corner that hit Colorado defenseman Greg Zanon – who had his back turned – and deflected into the net at 15:11. It was the fifth goal and 11th point in 20 games for Klinkhammer after earning a promotion to the NHL.

O'Reilly gave the Avs the lead again when he walked off the half boards and blew a shot past Smith with 34 seconds left in the period to make it 4-3. But Vermette tied the game for a third time on the second of three Phoenix power plays in the first eight minutes of the third period, gobbling up the rebound of a Michael Stone and pumping it past Giguere for his 12th goal of the season.

Colorado had a golden chance to win in regulation when Rostislav Klesla was called for boarding Paul Stastny with 3:28 remaining. But Tyson Barrie hit the post on the power play with 2:10 left and Smith made a big save on Mitchell to force overtime.

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