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Duchene's last-second goal lifts Avalanche past Sharks

The SportsXchange

DENVER -- Matt Duchene figured he had nothing to lose, so he lifted a backhand at the net and hoped for the best.

It worked out just fine for him and the Colorado Avalanche.

Duchene scored with less than a second to go in overtime, and the Avalanche beat the San Jose Sharks 3-2 on Sunday night.

Duchene won it when he knocked in a rebound before the horn sounded, officially at 4:59 of overtime. After a short review, the Avalanche celebrated their second straight win.

"I heard the horn after it floated by me," Sharks goalie Antti Niemi said. "By a bit. They went to check it and I was hoping for the best."

Duchene had two goals, Ryan O'Reilly also scored, and P.A. Parenteau had two assists for Colorado (10-10-4). Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov made 36 saves.

Niemi stopped 39 shots, and Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture scored for the Sharks (11-7-6).

Duchene has been Colorado's best player this season, and he has piled up the points in the past three games. He has four goals and three assists in that short span, and leads the team with 11 goals and 26 points.

None was bigger than the winner Sunday. He floated a backhand over Niemi's left pad for the dramatic win.

"Last-ditch effort, I thought the buzzer would have gone already," Duchene said. "Just whack at it and it goes in. I didn't think it was going to count. I know the buzzer here sometimes is a little late."

The play started after an icing resulted in a faceoff in the San Jose end with 10 seconds left. Duchene won the draw back to defenseman Jan Hejda, who passed to Parenteau for a shot.

"You keep playing until you hear the buzzer. That's what I did," Parenteau said. "I knew there wasn't much time so that's why I took a slapshot. I got all of it."

Joe Pavelski, who lost the faceoff, blocked the shot with his chest. The puck went right to Duchene for the winner.

"There's 10 seconds left, you'd like to win that draw," Pavelski said. "It's something you pride yourself on. It's one of the plays you'd like to think when you block it you'd get a better result."

San Jose did salvage a point for the second straight game after a slow start. The Sharks found themselves down 2-0 a night after blowing a two-goal, third-period lead in a 4-3 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues.

Duchene scored on the power play 6:47 into the game to get Colorado on the board. In the second, O'Reilly made it a two-goal game when he redirected a pass from Aaron Palushaj past Niemi. It was O'Reilly's second goal of the season and second in as many games.

The Sharks capitalized after Colorado iced the puck twice in the final minute of the second period. The tired Avalanche group couldn't get to the bench before Marleau tipped Justin Braun's shot from the point past Varlamov with 40 seconds left in the second.

It was Marleau's 13th goal of the season and the 400th of his career. He hadn't scored in his previous six games.

Couture sent the game to overtime with his 10th goal of the season at 16:35 of the third. Then moments before they had a chance to win it in a shootout the game was over.

"Mixed emotions. To scramble back and fight back on the road down two is nice," San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. "The way it ends, with 0.1 second and you don't get a chance at the shootout, that's a little bit disappointing."

The Avalanche moved to .500 at the midway point of their schedule and just three points out of the eighth spot in the Western Conference.

"We want to get on a roll here," Duchene said. "We're halfway through the season, we've got a half to go and it's got to be better than the first half if we want to make the playoffs."

NOTES: Duchene's winner was the latest overtime goal in franchise history. ... Avalanche defenseman Ryan Wilson was activated and in the lineup after missing 15 games with an ankle injury. He was paired with Erik Johnson, who came off the injured list Friday. ... Colorado forward Milan Hejduk was placed on injured reserve, retroactive to March 3, with a torso injury. ... Marleau put 21 shots on goal during his six-game goalless drought. ... Parenteau's assist in the first period gave him a career-best six-game points streak. ... Varlamov has started all 11 games at Pepsi Center. He improved to 8-2-1 at home.
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