COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Matt Duchene came back just in time for the Colorado Avalanche.
Sidelined since Nov. 11 with a concussion, Duchene scored his first goal of the season 1:49 into overtime in his first game back, helping Colorado beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 on Monday night.
The victory improved Colorado’s record to 9-9-0, while Columbus, which had won four straight, fell to 10-5-2.
“That’s what elite players do,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “They make plays and seize the moment when the time is right. That’s what (Duchene) did for us tonight.”
Colorado, playing the final game of a three-game trip, led 2-1 before Columbus’ Cam Atkinson tied it with 6.5 seconds left in regulation, assisted by Sam Gagne and Zach Werenski.
It was Atkinson’s second goal of the night and seventh of the season. His first came at 9:00 of the first period.
“I thought (Cam) gave us some good minutes, and scored some big goals,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. “I’m always looking down the bench in all situations for him. I think he can play in them all. He’s going to get those opportunities, because he usually comes through.”
Tyson Barrie got Colorado on the board at 3:05 of the second period with his first goal of the season. The Avalanche then went up 2-1 with Erik Johnson’s sniped shot from the left side at 9:00 of the second period.
Johnson also assisted on Duchene’s winner, which resulted from a 2-on-1 rush.
“In 3-on-3 there are lots of chances for odd-man (rushes),” Johnson said. “I tried to put it on (Duchene’s) blade. When you have good players like that, and they are open, you just have to put it near their stick and they will find a way to put it in.”
Semyon Varlamov stopped 40 of 42 shots, while Curtis McElhinney, starting in relief of Sergei Bobrovsky, stopped 24 attempts.
Although the loss snapped the Blue Jacket’s seven-game home winning streak, Tortorella said he was encouraged how his team kept fighting.
“I’m pleased the way we kept coming and grabbed a point,” he said. “It was a game that you need to try to find a way to win if you want to get somewhere in April. That’s a huge point for us. Wish we got the second, (but) I don’t have a lot of complaints.”
NOTES: The game proved a homecoming for former Blue Jacket Fedor Tyutin, who played 553 games for Columbus over eight seasons before signing with Colorado last summer. He was honored before the game with a video tribute. … Columbus defenseman Seth Jones returned after missing six games to a foot injury. … Bobrovsky got the night off for Columbus after starting 13 of teams first 16 games. … Bednar, hired this year as the seventh coach in Colorado history, last year guided the Blue Jackets’ AHL affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters, to the 2016 Calder Cup.
Avalanche: Return home to host Edmonton on Wednesday night.
Blue Jackets: Host Calgary on Wednesday night.