In the overall standings, it was just another two points, but the Colorado Avalanche’s win against the Chicago Blackhawks was a very big two points indeed. The Avs became the first team this season to defeat Chicago in regulation, and not only that, they crushed them by pouring on six goals en route to a 6-2 victory. Chicago entered the game with an incomparable 21-0-3 record, including a win against the Avs two days earlier in which they scored the game-winner with just 50 seconds left in regulation, costing the Avs a valuable point.
Give the Avs all the credit in the world. After the tough loss suffered in Chicago, they could have come out Friday night defeated, convinced the Blackhawks were just the better team (they certainly are according to the standings) but instead, the Avs came out hungry and played a solid 60-minute game against the league’s best team.
The Avs were led by rising superstar Matt Duchene, who had his second career four-point game with a goal and three assists. They say that in big games, your best players have to be your best players and Matt Duchene is certainly proving that he is capable of being just that. Two days later, Duchene had another superb performance as he scored the Avs’ first goal of the game and then netted the game-winner in overtime with just .2 seconds left, the latest goal in Colorado Avalanche regular season history.
Sunday’s win against the Sharks was another big win for the Burgundy and Blue. The Avs of course had gained some big momentum from the nationally-covered win against the mighty Blackhawks, but it would have all been for nothing if they failed to build upon it. Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly, who is finding his game after rejoining the team a week and a half ago, got the Avs a 2-0 lead, but the Sharks battled back to send it to overtime. Although the Avs did let San Jose steal a point, Duchene’s goal was another huge moment for the club, who looks to conclude their current three-game homestand tonight against division rivals, the Edmonton Oilers.
With Matt Duchene’s recent surge of seven points over his last three games and 26 on the year, he is now fourth in scoring in the entire Western Conference, and linemate P.A. Parenteau sits tied for fifth with 25. After going scoreless his first two games of the season, Ryan O’Reilly has four points over his last three games and Paul Stastny has four points in as many games as well.
The Oilers come into tonight just one point behind Colorado, so it will be a big game for them as well. They, like the Avs, boast some good, young talent and are led by Sam Gagner, Taylor Hall, and Jordan Eberle. The last time these two teams met, the Oilers overcame a 4-1 Avalanche lead and won the game 6-4. The Avs must avoid a repeat of that game and must continue to build upon the momentum gained from the Chicago and San Jose victories if they want to push toward the playoff picture.