“He’s moving well, finishing his chances,” Saccos said. “He’s a guy we’re counting on for production. I’ve said this before—we’re into game 60 now. A lot of our young guys play a lot of minutes. They’ve been used in a a lot of different situations throughout the year, so that rookie status, it’s really no longer.”
Certainly, the results on the ice bear that out.
The third overall pick in the June draft who didn’t turn 19 until January, Duchene redirected Brett Clark’s(notes) shot from the blue line past Ilya Bryzgalov(notes) for the winning score. The NHL rookie goals leader, Duchene boosted his total to 20 with his fourth multigoal game of the season.
“It takes all kinds of goals to score in games like this,” Duchene said. “I went to the net and Clark made an unbelievable shot and I was able to tip it. It was easy to get my stick on it.”
Bryzgalov didn’t seem to want to give the upstart Duchene that much credit.
“It hit him on his stick and changed direction,” he said. “There wasn’t anything I could have done. I did all I could. I’m sure he was surprised himself. If it hadn’t hit him in his stick and changed direction, they wouldn’t have scored.”
It was the Avs’ second win in two games against Phoenix this season. The Coyotes lost for only the second time in their last 10 games.
“I challenged him and read that he was shooting on my glove side and got a piece of it,” Anderson said.
Colorado was in a 5-on-3 power play midway through the first period when Chris Stewart(notes) spotted Duchene open in front of the net and passed the puck from the left circle to the crease. Duchene hit the puck clean with his stick, shooting it past Bryzgalov’s glove for the Avalanche’s NHL-leading eighth goal with a two-man advantage.
Still, it was only the third time Colorado had scored a power-play goal in its last 28 chances over nine games.
NOTES: Both teams have one game remaining before the NHL’s Olympic break. … Colorado defenseman John-Michael Liles(notes) was a healthy scratch for a fourth consecutive game. … Phoenix’s Taylor Pyatt(notes) remains a goal shy of 100 for his career. … Duchene became the fifth Avalanche rookie to score 20 goals in a season and took over the team lead in goals. … Avs defenseman Adam Foote(notes) did not return after straining his back midway through the second period. … The Avs completed a 4-0 homestand.