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Berra, Avalanche shut out struggling Ducks

by Abbey Mastracco

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Reto Berra made 35 saves for the Colorado Avalanche in a 3-0 win against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on Friday.

It was the third time the Ducks were shut out in four games this season (0-3-1).

They outshot the Avalanche 35-25, but Colorado blocked 41 shots and Berra, playing in place of Semyon Varlamov, earned his first win of the season and second NHL shutout (April 9, 2015 against the Winnipeg Jets).

"Mentally, I was so calm today and saw the puck really good," Berra said. "I didn't care about a score. I just stopped every puck."

Anaheim has gone eight periods without a goal. Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said he saw positive indicators but admitted the drought has been exceptionally frustrating.

"It's pretty disappointing for everybody. There is nobody in this organization that is happy right now," he said. "I saw signs of pulling out of it. I firmly believe if we get one goal, we'll get three or four. Right now, it's just a struggle to score."

Colorado coach Patrick Roy was especially pleased with its defensive effort in front of Berra and the work the penalty kill put in against five power plays.

"We made a great commitment blocking those shots," Roy said. "The tracking was phenomenal tonight. We talked about that this morning. We wanted to make sure we played well in our zone. We've got great leaders in this room and guys know that we have to play better defensively in order to win some hockey games, and that's exactly what we did tonight."

After giving up six goals to the Boston Bruins at home in their previous game, the Avalanche played with an emphasis on defensive fundamentals. They executed their defensive-zone game plan by pushing the Ducks to the perimeter and putting bodies in shooting lanes, forcing Anaheim to shoot from the outside and eliminating chances for easy goals.

"You don't want to be fearless and stupid with it, but you've got to get in those shooting lanes and have everybody collapse into the zone," Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog said. "When it expands, they have free reign to throw pucks at the net, so you've got to just get in that lane and sacrifice the body."

Nathan MacKinnon, Jack Skille and John Mitchell scored for Colorado (2-2-0).

Alex Tanguay fed MacKinnon from the corner and his one-timer from the edge of the right circle beat Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen blocker-side 53 seconds into the first period.

"This is a big game for us, we wanted to get out to a good start," MacKinnon said. "It's always fun to score a big goal like that early; it turned out to be the game-winner and we really locked it down, I thought."

Colorado strung together a few high-pressure shifts in the second period and Skille capitalized with a slap shot at 7:11.

Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf had a prime opportunity at 15:52 of the second, with time and space in front of the left circle, but his snap shot hit the post.

Mitchell scored into an empty net at 19:15 of the third.

"At the end of the day, we lost 3-0. You can get as mad as you want, but you have to go out there and do it," Ducks forward Corey Perry said. "All we need is one bounce. It's going to be a shot off someone's rear end, or off their skates or sticks."

Ducks defenseman Simon Despres left the game at 11:57 of the second period with an upper-body injury after a hit by Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie. There was no update on Despres' status following the game.

The Ducks close their four-game homestand Sunday against the Minnesota Wild. The Avalanche travel to play the Los Angeles Kings.

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