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Berra, Barrie help Avalanche defeat Devils

by Mike G. Morreale

NEWARK, N.J. -- Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy believes one way to remain in the hunt for a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is to have two quality goaltenders.

Though Semyon Varlamov might be considered Colorado's No. 1, Roy is always happy to see backup Reto Berra make a case for the job.

Berra made 27 saves Tuesday to help the Avalanche defeat the New Jersey Devils 2-1 at Prudential Center.

"I love the fact Reto makes it a competition," Roy said. "This is how we will get back in the playoff race; we need solid goaltending and we're aware of that. But we still have a lot of confidence in [Varlamov] and we're confident he'll bounce back as well."

Matt Duchene and Tyson Barrie scored in the second period for the Avalanche (10-14-1), who have won three of their past five. Berra, who was making his first start in five games, is 5-7-0.

Colorado, with Varlamov, lost at the New York Islanders 5-3 on Monday.

"I felt a big responsibility, especially after not playing [Monday], so I'm fresh and I want to give the team a good chance to win," Berra said. "We played really solid the whole game. The pucks were in and then out and the guys did a nice job blocking shots in front of me."

The Avalanche had 16 blocked shots; five players had two.

Kyle Palmieri scored in the third period for the Devils (12-10-2), who have lost three of four. Cory Schneider made 23 saves in his fifth straight start.

"I thought we played pretty well," Schneider said. "We didn't necessarily dominate them, but except for a small stretch in the second where they got two quick ones, I thought, overall, we picked it up in the third (when the Devils held a 9-6 shot advantage)."

Palmieri scored 2:09 into the third period to pull the Devils within 2-1. Travis Zajac won a left-circle draw back to Palmieri, who snapped a shot that dipped between the legs of Avalanche defenseman Nate Guenin and past Berra on the short side.

"We were better in the third," Devils center Adam Henrique said. "We were getting the puck in, getting some offense and had some chances. We had a big faceoff goal to keep things going, but just couldn’t find a way to get the second goal."

Duchene and Barrie gave the Avalanche a 2-0 lead. Duchene scored his Avalanche-leading 13th of the season off a snap shot from the right circle that hit Schneider's glove before trickling over the goal line at 2:10. Duchene, the NHL's Third Star for November, has five goals and eight points in the past seven games.

"That line (of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Duchene) is playing really well," Roy said. "They've really clicked and have played a lot of minutes. [Duchene] is always around the net, so there's no secret to his game.

"If you stay on the outside, it's hard to score because the goaltenders are too good, so you have to be in around the net and [Duchene] has beautiful hands. He's capable of roofing a shot from in close and I'm happy for him."

Duchene, who had flulike symptoms Sunday and Monday, said he felt better against the Devils. He played 19:23 and was tied for the Avalanche lead with four shots on goal.

"I think the big thing is not to think about [scoring streaks] too much and focus on the foundation of your game," Duchene said. "For me, I'm focusing on speed, going hard to the net and shooting a lot of pucks. I felt like maybe I could have had another goal [on Tuesday]. You have to stay hungry, that's the biggest thing."

Barrie, a defenseman, scored his second of the season at 6:15 off a snap shot from the right circle that beat Schneider over the right shoulder. Barrie used Devils defenseman John Moore as a screen.

"We don't have any rules regarding our defensemen; we like to see our defense jump in on the rush," Roy said. "We just want to make sure someone has them covered. Jack Skille made a nice pass on Barrie's goal."

Berra made three consecutive saves late in the second period when Henrique took two quick attempts in the slot before Zajac jammed at the rebound with 1:10 remaining.

"Reto didn't have to make spectacular saves but he was sharp out there when he had to be and I thought he made a couple good ones in the second on some of our giveaways," Roy said. "Overall, it was a solid team performance."

Duchene said the Avalanche has confidence in each goalie but was glad Berra was able to snap his four-game losing streak during which he allowed 13 goals.

"[Berra] was great," Duchene said. "He made some big saves when we needed them. He's played very well for us this year and we needed him [Tuesday]."

The Devils play at the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday. The Avalanche play the third of a four-game road trip at the New York Rangers. Roy said forward Alex Tanguay, who has missed the past 11 games because of a knee injury, probably will return to the lineup.

"Obviously, it would be nice to keep it rolling but we need to put a little streak together here because we're kind of win-lose, win-lose right now," Duchene said. "We got to see if we can get a win on Thursday and hopefully a win on Saturday (at the Minnesota Wild) too."


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