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Varlamov shines, Duchene hurt as Avalanche beat Coyotes

Associated Press

12/30/2011 1:30:23 AM

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche's big win over the Phoenix Coyotes might have come at an even bigger price.

Semyon Varlamov made 25 saves, Gabriel Landeskog had a goal and an assist, and Colorado beat the Coyotes 3-2 on Thursday night.

Kevin Porter and Stefan Elliott also scored for Colorado, which went 8-1 at home in December. But Colorado's celebration was tempered because of a right knee injury sustained by centre Matt Duchene early in the first period.

Duchene was hurt as his right skate got caught in a rut in the ice as he tried to deliver a check. He skated to the bench and went immediately to the locker room. Duchene wore a brace on the right knee after the game.

"I just saw it on video, it looked like he tweaked it," Colorado coach Joe Sacco said. "He'll be re-evaluated in the morning."

The 20-year-old Duchene leads the Avalanche with 12 goals and is second on the team with 24 points.

"He's without a doubt one of the best players in the league," Landeskog said. "It's definitely a big blow to us, but at the same time we have a good team in here."

Mikkel Boedker had two goals, and Kyle Chipchura had two assists for the Coyotes. Jason LaBarbera stopped 32 shots in the loss.

Landeskog netted the winning goal after Chuck Kobasew did the dirty work. Kobasew battled Adrian Aucoin along the boards before floating a pass to Landeskog, who beat LaBarbera between the pads with 10:50 remaining.

"Chucky did a great job of staying with that puck," Landeskog said. "He kind of fed me, and I got some room there, I tried to get it low on net and was able to sneak it in five-hole."

LaBarbera went off for an extra skater with 50 seconds left, but the Coyotes couldn't get the tying goal.

Boedker's second goal with 2:21 left in the second period got Phoenix even 2-2. The game then got chippy when Lauri Korpikoski ran into Varlamov, irking the goalie's teammates.

With 1:38 left in the period, Raffi Torres hit Colorado defenceman Jan Heda in the head with a check while Heda was vulnerable. Heda was down on the ice for a few minutes before skating off with help from the Avalanche's trainer. Heda returned to the game in the third period.

"I thought the referees, obviously, they had a tough night," Sacco said. "They missed that hit there, but we're fortunate Jan was able to come back."

Phoenix's Oliver Ekman-Larsson was awarded a penalty shot when he was tripped by Daniel Winnik on a breakaway. He failed to give the Coyotes the lead when his shot flew high and wide.

"It's frustrating. We've played a lot of tight hockey games and we can't find a way to get on top of them," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "That's seven one-goal games in a row, and we've only won two of them."

Porter used good timing to put the Avalanche ahead 1-0. After serving a penalty for too many men on the ice, Porter jumped into an odd-man rush and redirected Paul Stastny's centring pass past LaBarbera 7:44 into the game for his third goal of the season.

Boedker tied it 1-1 when he sent a rebound over Varlamov's right shoulder at 12:31. Elliott gave Colorado a 2-1 lead when he skated into the Phoenix zone and beat LaBarbera with a shot from the slot with 4:32 left in the first.

"Just trying to shoot the puck," Boedker said. "That's something I've got to do more of -- shoot the puck and take it to the net. It's not very fun after a loss."

NOTES: Colorado leads the NHL with 14 one-goal victories. ... The Avalanche's eight home wins in a month tied a franchise record set in March 2008. ... Colorado has allowed three power-play goals in eight games. The Avalanche have killed 27 of 30 penalties in that stretch. ... The game marked the sixth set of back-to-back contests for the Coyotes. They are 4-2 in the second game. ... Kobasew returned to the lineup after missing eight games with a head injury.