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Short-handed goal leads Avs past Oilers

The SportsXchange

DENVER -- Maxime Talbot brought more to Colorado than his ability to kill penalties. The Avalanche center can still turn defense into offense in a hurry.

Talbot scored his first short-handed goal for the Avalanche and the 16th of his career to help Colorado beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-2 Thursday night.

The 29-year-old veteran, who came to Colorado from the Philadelphia Flyers in a trade on Halloween, has three more short-handed goals in the postseason.

"Surprisingly, (I have) quite a bit," he said. "I think I had five one year. It's nice to get some chances on the (penalty kill)."

Center Matt Duchene scored an empty-net goal and added two assists, and goaltender Semyon Varlamov stopped 27 shots in the win. Center Ryan O'Reilly and defenseman Tyson Barrie also scored for the Avalanche.

Left winger Taylor Hall and center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each had a goal and assist each for the Oilers, who lost their fifth straight.

Edmonton (11-23-3) hoped to get healthy against an Avalanche team it dominated the past two years. The Oilers won five of the previous six against Colorado, including an 8-2 win in Edmonton two weeks ago.

"You can't just look at their record and say, 'Oilers are in town,'" Talbot said. "We knew what happened last time when we played there."

The Dec. 5 result could have scarred Varlamov, who allowed all eight goals on just 20 shots that night, but he was sharper Thursday.

"Oh yeah, it was a nightmare, especially for me," Varlamov said of the defeat in Edmonton. "It was a long time ago, we're playing every second day, so if you have a good game or a bad game, you forget about it."

Colorado (23-10-1) came away with better memories Thursday, thanks to Talbot's fourth goal of the season, which proved to be the game-winner. It came on Edmonton's only power-play chance.

Right wing Marc-Andre Cliche stole the puck near the blue line, and he fed Talbot in front of the Oilers' net. Talbot e slid a shot under Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk's pads to make it 3-2 at 18:28 of the second period.

Moments later, Avalanche center John Mitchell nearly scored on a breakaway, but Dubnyk made the save.

"It's frustrating. You've been waiting the whole game for a power play," Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins said. "The power play not only goes out and gives them a two-on-one, the next unit goes out and gives them a breakaway. The whole bench is shaking their head. It's disgusting."

O'Reilly tied the game at 2 earlier with his 11th goal of the season.

Dubnyk, who made 35 saves, came off for an extra skater with 1:53 left, allowing Duchene to add his 16th in the dying seconds.

"Empty-net goals are nice to get, but they're kind of lucky," Duchene said. "I would like to have scored something earlier in the game."

The Oilers took a 1-0 lead on Hall's goal with 5:10 left in the first period. He beat Varlamov with a snap shot from the right circle for his 13th of the season.

Soon after, Edmonton center Sam Gagner drew a five-minute major and a game misconduct for a crosschecking center Paul Stastny in the jaw, and as the period ended, Hall got two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct.

"Hey, you have to make the call," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said of Gagne's penalty. "I guess because everybody saw it, it was an obvious call."

Barrie cashed in on the five-on-three advantage with his second goal of the season 1:07 into the second to make it 1-1, but Colorado couldn't get anything more on the rest of Gagner's penalty.

"Listen, the Gagner penalty was a penalty. I thought it was by accident when that stick came up," Eakins said. "I thought you could see it immediately, when the guy went down, Gags was concerned.

"Taylor Hall did not say one thing to that referee. Another player said it that was going down the hallway, and it was nothing terrible."

Hall and Nugent-Hopkins hooked up again midway through the second. Hall stole the puck from Colorado defenseman Erik Johnson and sent a pass across the front of the net to Nugent-Hopkins, who easily beat Varlamov for his ninth goal of the season.

NOTES: Edmonton RW Alex Hemsky played his second straight game after missing one with a rib injury. ... Avalanche D Ryan Wilson (back) was a scratch for the third consecutive game since coming off injured reserve. He suffered the injury against the Nashville Predators on Nov. 6. ... The assist by Oilers C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the first period was his first in the past five games. ... Colorado C Matt Duchene has 10 points in his past five games. ... Edmonton C Taylor Hall has 21 points in 15 career games against Colorado.
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