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Duchene nets two, Avalanche shutout Lightning 4-0

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“Ahhh...Matt Duchene and Semyon Varlamov are in slumps to start the season!”—or are they?

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Avalanche bounce back from a tough loss in Washington Tuesday night with dominating 4-0 shutout victory over another playoff team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, on their home ice.

Matt Duchene, after failing to make his mark on the score sheet the previous three contest, erupted for three points tonight. The first of which occurred during the dwindling seconds of the first period while perennial all-star Steven Stamkos was fumbling with the puck in his own end. Duchene deftly swooped in, stole it, and fired off a shot against Lightning goalie Ben Bishop. The first attempt was rejected, but the rebound came right back and Duchene buried the second attempt to give the Avalanche their first 1-0 lead of the young season.

Duchene would strike again with less than a minute to go in the second, this time off off a tip from a Patrick Wiercioch blast from the point. The goal would put the Avalanche up 2-0 heading into the third period, a scenario that, last year, would have sent the team into full-on turtle mode for twenty straight minutes.

Only...that didn’t totally happen!

Colorado would extend their lead, first on an Andreas Martinsen goal following a rather improbably bounce off the end boards at the 12:07 mark and then another from Carl “Carrrrrl” Soderberg in transition almost five minutes later. At this point, the game was well in hand, and yes, we did see some score effects start to disturb the balance we saw for most of the game.

Fortunately, goalie Semyon Varlamov was up to the task, stopping all 27 Lightning shots on goal. He looked calm, composed, athletic, and strong—in position for every shot and unfazed by every puck fired his way. This was the Semyon Varlamov we saw during the preseason and the one we hope to see in subsequent games. He was terrific.

The Avalanche conclude their four-game road trip against the Florida Panthers on Saturday before flying home to host the Winnipeg Jets six days later at home.

NHL.com Boxscore

Standouts

Semyon Varlamov — So, these shutouts are kind of fun. Let’s do it more often, yeah?

Matt Duchene — Getting that early monkey off his back will do this team a lot of good during the early stretch. It’s crazy to think he scored 30 goals last year knowing how improbably slow he started.

Nikita Zadorov — I’m not alone in thinking this was the best game Z has played in an Avalanche uniform. He’s growing into the role of a top-pairing defenseman right before our eyes and it’s a sight to behold. The play where he single-handedly shut down Tyler Johnson was just dreamy.

Shmucks

Jarome Iginla — The penalty thing again, Iggy? It’s bad enough you’re dragging our Top-6 down, but putting your team on the PK every night is something the team just cannot afford.