After dropping a rare home game against the Jets two nights ago, the Avalanche looked poised to get back to their winning ways at Pepsi Center Thursday night against the visiting Phoenix Coyotes.
Colorado capitalized on a tired Coyote team early on. With constant pressure in the offensive zone, the Avalanche finally scored ten minutes into the first period. Phoenix, even though battered and tired, turned up the heat on the Avs not allowing them to clear the puck out of their end. Exhausted, Colorado turned the puck over to Mikkel Boedker who evened the score with a wicked wrist shot.
With relentless pressure from Phoenix in their offensive end, Colorado found some holes in the Phoenix defense who were caught pinching-in at the blue line. After clearing the puck and creating an odd-man rush, Stefan Elliot jumped into the play and capitalized burying a wrist-shot of his own allowing the Avalanche to ride a 2-1 lead into the second period.
The second period was fairly uneventful aside from Boedker scoring again to tie the game at 2 goals apiece. There was, however, a controversial hit delivered by Coyote Raffi Torres on Jan Hejda with 1:38 left in the second period. Hejda seemed to lose his footing and while on his knees Torres appeared to deliver an elbow to the side of Hejda’s head, dropping him to the ice. The refs did not call a penalty which only seemed to light a fire under the Avalanche heading into the third period.
Gabriel Landeskog continued to have a hot hand scoring the game-winning goal for the Avs in the third period.
All of this was overshadowed, though, by the injury sustained by Avalanche forward Matt Duchene. Duchene left the game early in the first period and did not return due to an injury to his right knee. Duchene’s skate got caught up in the ice while he was delivering a check along the boards. Immediately after going into the boards, Duchene limped over to the Avs bench and headed down the tunnel to the Avalanche locker room. Duchene has an MRI scheduled for Friday.
The Avalanche showed great resilience after Duchene left the game and hope that his injury is not that severe. Colorado now travels to Anaheim to take on the Ducks New Year’s Eve.
Follow AJ Olivieri on Twitter @olivieriaj