DENVER (AP) — After the final horn sounded and the Colorado Avalanche had won their first home game of the season, the players stood at center ice and raised their sticks to the crowd.
It has been a long time since fans at Pepsi Center had something to cheer about and the team wanted to savor the moment with them.
“It’s a nod to them for coming out and paying their money,” center Matt Duchene said. “Even though we’re 1-3 at home we’ve been in every game and probably should have won two or three. We want to be a good home team.”
Semyon Varlamov stopped 29 shots, Duchene scored an early third period goal and Colorado beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 Sunday night.
Milan Hejduk and Chuck Kobasew also scored and David Jones and Kyle Quincey had two assists each for the Avalanche, who won for the first time in four games in Denver. They are 6-1 on the road.
“The guys can maybe breathe a little bit easier now,” Colorado coach Joe Sacco said. “I think that they were squeezing it a little bit.”
Anze Kopitar and Scott Parse had goals and Jonathan Quick made 13 saves for Los Angeles. It was the Kings’ first regulation loss on the road in seven games.
Duchene’s winner was just his second goal of the season. He has struggled through the first month of the season and was used on the fourth line in a game last week.
“I know I’m going to get going at some point,” he said. “I had two goals at this point last year, so I’m right on track.”
He picked the right time for his first goal in six games. He picked up a loose puck near center ice, skated into the Kings zone and used a defender to beat Quick with a shot over his left shoulder 1:52 into the third period.
“He came down with a lot of speed. He made a great shot, he put it in a real great spot,” Quick said. “I don’t think me or the defenseman could’ve played it any differently. Got to tip the cap to a player like that when he does something like that.”
Colorado missed a great chance for an insurance goal midway through the third. Defenseman Ryan Wilson had the puck to Quick’s left with two other Avalanche players surrounding the net and no Kings around. But Quick stopped the initial shot and Colorado couldn’t stuff in the rebound.
The Kings had a chance to tie it when they pulled Quick in the final minute and got a power play but couldn’t get a shot on net.
Colorado grabbed a 2-1 edge midway through the second thanks to a forgiving bounce on the power play. Quick went behind the net to play a dump-in but the puck took an odd carom off the boards right to the front of the Los Angeles net and Hejduk knocked it in.
“Coming in along the wall I was just going to stop it and leave it,” Quick said. “It just took a weird hop off the wall, nothing you could do about that.”
The Kings tied it late in the period when Kopitar scored with 15 seconds left in a 5-on-3 power play.
Colorado was fortunate to be tied heading into the third after being outshot 25-9 through the first two periods.
The Avalanche took a 1-0 lead on Kobasew’s short-handed goal 6:55 into the game, his second of the year. Parse tied it on the same power play when he scored 27 seconds later.
“We had a couple of unfortunate bounces, that’s the way the game goes sometimes,” Kopitar said. “I thought the effort was there, the compete level was there. We just couldn’t break through.”
NOTES: Avalanche F Gabriel Landeskog finished with four goals in October, one short of the club’s rookie record for the month set by Marek Svatos in 2005-06. … Colorado C Peter Mueller misses his fifth straight game and seventh overall with a head injury. … Jarret Stoll’s assist in the first period was his 299th career point.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)