Lots of mi­nuses sub­tract from Duch­ene’s pluses

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Mike Cham­bers

nashville, tenn. »Play­ing his first NHL game of the sea­son Tues­day, de­fense­man Cody Goloubef had a night­mar­ish de­but with the Avalanche, go­ing mi­nus-2 and tak­ing two penal­ties against the Nashville Preda­tors. He had com­pany. Fel­low Colorado blue-liner Eric Geli­nas also ap­peared to make a key mis­take at Bridge­stone Arena, where the Avalanche failed to take ad­van­tage of a two-goal game by Matt Duch­ene and saw its win­less skid grow to six (0-5-1).

In the end, a 5-on-3 power-play goal was the dif­fer­ence in the Preda­tors’ 4-3 tri­umph. Af­ter Goloubef and part­ner Fran­cois Beau­chemin took penal­ties at 19:17 of the se­cond pe­riod, Nashville cap­i­tal­ized 1:04 into the third to break a 3-3 tie, with de­fense­man Ro­man Josi get­ting the game-win­ning power play goal.

Avs goalie Se­myon Var­lamov (28 saves) didn’t play poorly but wasn’t as good as Pekka Rinne (25) at the other end.

Af­ter los­ing the opener of its four-game road trip, Colorado coach Jared Bed­nar said his de­fense­men played one of their bet­ter games, de­spite the costly turnovers and penal­ties. He said Geli­nas’ own-goal re­di­rect­ion was a fluke and Goloubef — whom he coached in the mi­nor leagues — didn’t play that poorly in 20:13 of ice time.

“First two goals we got scored against were on turnovers — one at the O-zone blue line and one in the D-zone,” Bed­nar said. “But we didn’t make too many of those mis­takes tonight.”

Goloubef, who was ac­quired from Colum­bus’ Amer­i­can Hockey League af­fil­i­ate last week, was di­rectly re­spon­si­ble for the Preda­tors’ first goal and had a close-up view of

the se­cond. He was whis­tled for hold­ing late in the se­cond pe­riod when Beau­chemin skated off for cross check­ing.

“Just got to find a way to get through it and elim­i­nate those,” Goloubef said of his penal­ties. “Look­ing to get bet­ter ev­ery night, no mat­ter how well you play or how bad you play. Ev­ery day, you look to climb.”

Duch­ene’s goals — his first two power-play tal­lies of the sea­son — came at 3:46 and 13:56 of the se­cond pe­riod, forg­ing 2-2 and 3-3 ties. The lat­ter came on a put­back re­bound off a shot by Jarome Iginla. All nine of Duch­ene’s goals have been scored on the road.

“Can’t ex­plain it,” he said. “I feel like I’m bring­ing the same ef­fort and the same game, home and road. It’s just as­sists at home and goals on the road. It’s kind of weird. I’ve never had any­thing like that.”

Duch­ene also can’t ex­plain why it took him 20 games to score his first power-play goal.

“We’ve been a lit­tle dis­jointed on the power play at times,” he said. “We’ll not have any flow and then get a funny one go­ing in. Tonight was dif­fer­ent. We set it up, got it mov­ing around. Guys did a great job. We did a lot of good things on the power play, and that’s got to be a weapon for us. That got us back into the game tonight.”

Nashville led 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 be­hind goals from Vik­tor Arvids­son, James Neal and P.K. Sub­ban — who each cap­i­tal­ized on a mis­take by an Avalanche de­fense­man.

Arvids­son blocked Goloubef’s of­fen­sive-zone shot from the point and scored on a break­away. Neal jumped on a Colorado turnover and split Goloubef and Beau­chemin be­fore roofing a shot over Var­lamov.

And Sub­ban’s blast from the point was redi­rected — per­fectly, it seemed — by the of­ten­scratched Geli­nas, who played for just the third time in the Avs’ last nine games.

Bed­nar said Geli­nas was re­spon­si­ble for cov­er­ing F3 — Nashville’s high­est for­ward — and not block­ing Sub­ban’s shot.

“He should just leave the puck for me and I would make a save,” Var­lamov said of Geli­nas’ in­ad­ver­tent stick. “But it was a lucky bounce.”

Still, the Avs stuck with it. Nathan MacKinnon struck ex­actly two minutes af­ter Arvids­son; and Duch­ene came through with his long-over­due power-play goals to tie it twice.

Mark Humphrey, The As­so­ci­ated Press

Avalanche de­fense­man Cody Goloubef and Preda­tors cen­ter Ryan Jo­hansen fight for a re­bound in front of Colorado goalie Se­myon Var­lamov in the third pe­riod Tues­day.

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