Lots of minuses subtract from Duchene’s pluses
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.
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.