So much for Avalanche easing in Duchene

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 29, 2014 - 12:39 AM

Back after a monthlong absence because of injury, Colorado’s leading scorer provided a shot in the arm.

hide

In his return to the ice after 13 games, Colorado star Matt Duchene battled for the puck with Wild defenseman Marco Scandella on Monday night.

Photo: CARLOS GONZALEZ • cgonzalez@startribune.com,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The plan was to start Matt Duchene slowly, on the fourth line, and limit his playing time to about 10 minutes on Monday. The Colorado Avalanche center had been out of the lineup for 30 days, and he had just resumed skating a week earlier as he continued to rehabilitate his injured left knee.

A nip-and-tuck game — and Duchene’s impressive return — meant coach Patrick Roy tossed out that scheme about as quickly as Duchene wheeled around the ice at Xcel Energy Center. The Avalanche’s leading scorer in the regular season didn’t get the triumphant result he hoped for in Game 6 against the Wild. But his presence put a spark into the Colorado offense on the power play and at even strength in a 5-2 loss, and he is excited to see what he can do in Wednesday’s Game 7 in Denver.

The speedy, nimble forward demonstrated why his teammates longed to get him back in the lineup as soon as possible. In his first game since March 29, Duchene assisted on the tying power-play goal in the second period and played 18 minutes, 52 seconds.

He had missed the final eight games of the regular season and the first five of the playoffs because of a strained medial collateral ligament in his left knee, caused when he collided with teammate Jamie McGinn in a game against San Jose.

“He was great tonight,” Roy said of Duchene. “He was flying out there. He was playing well, he was playing hard, and I had to use him. He had a great game.”

Duchene said he knew Sunday that he would be back in the lineup. He began the game alongside Max Talbot and Brad Malone but soon was elevated to the second line with left wing Ryan O’Reilly and right wing P.A. Parenteau. Duchene ended the game without a shot on goal, but he set up many fine chances for his linemates, particularly O’Reilly, and Roy said the Avalanche was “more dangerous offensively” than it had been without him.

“I’m still pretty far away [from being at full strength],” said Duchene, who had a career-high 70 points in the regular season. “But I was still able to make some plays. I’ve got to find as close to my ‘A’ game as possible, and I felt it start to come as [the game] went along. It’s going to happen.”

Duchene’s knee injury left the Avalanche without one of its most dynamic players for the start of the first round. Without him, its offense had been frequently anemic and completely punchless on the power play. Through the first five games of the playoffs, it had scored only one goal on 18 attempts — worst in the NHL — and that was an empty-netter in the final minute of Game 2.

“We need him, plain and simple,” rookie forward Nathan MacKinnon said. “We can’t replace a guy like that. It makes a difference every time he plays.”

Duchene made a major difference on the power play, injecting greater rhythm, precision and firepower into a unit that had been discombobulated throughout the series. He drew attention from the Wild whenever he had the puck and opened up opportunity for others. On the tying goal, he got the puck in the right circle and passed to O’Reilly, who delivered the puck to Nick Holden at the left edge of the crease to end an 0-for-14 streak with the man advantage.

“This injury is one of the hardest injuries to come back from,’’ said Duchene, who is wearing a brace on the knee. “I went four weeks without a game and jumped into Game 6, which is not easy on the road. It was tough mentally, and that was something I really had to battle through.’’

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Kansas City - J. Vargas 7:07 PM
San Francisco - R. Vogelsong
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Buffalo 3:00 PM
San Jose
Boston 6:00 PM
Toronto
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
Montreal
New Jersey 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Dallas 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
Detroit 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Chicago 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Pittsburgh 7:00 PM
Nashville
Tampa Bay 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Florida 8:00 PM
Arizona
Washington 9:00 PM
Calgary
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
BYU 30 FINAL
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 59 FINAL
California 41
North Texas 21 2nd Qtr 4:50
Rice 14
UAB 0 2nd Qtr 1:51
Arkansas 28
Rutgers 7 2nd Qtr 3:30
(16) Nebraska 21
Maryland 0 2nd Qtr 5:06
Wisconsin 24
Texas 0 2nd Qtr 1:05
(11) Kansas State 13
Minnesota 3 2nd Qtr 0:45
Illinois 14
Memphis 28 2nd Qtr 1:23
SMU 7
North Carolina 14 2nd Qtr 14:15
Virginia 14
San Jose St 0 1st Qtr 8:02
Navy 0
Northern Ill 7 1st Qtr 8:37
Eastern Mich 0
(25) UCLA 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Los Angeles 1:30 PM
Seattle
D.C. 3:00 PM
Montreal
Toronto FC 6:30 PM
New England
Portland 7:30 PM
FC Dallas
Colorado 9:00 PM
Vancouver FC
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite Wild player?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close