DENVER – Craig Anderson was back along with Matt Duchene’s offence.
Anderson stopped 25 shots in his return from injury and Duchene broke out of a scoring slump to lift the Colorado Avalanche to a 5-1 win over the New York Rangers on Friday night.
David Jones, Kevin Porter, Kevin Shattenkirk and Daniel Winnik also had goals for the Avalanche, who went 3-0 on their homestand.
Anderson had missed 10 games because of a right knee injury, but showed little signs of rust as he gave up just a third-period goal to rookie Derek Stepan.
“My knee felt great,” Anderson said. “I was ready to go and the guys rallied around me.”
Duchene scored for the first time since Oct. 26, the night Anderson got hurt. The second-year player also added two assists as part of Colorado’s four-goal second period that broke open the game.
All it took was a stick to face to energize Duchene.
Just before his scoring spree, Duchene took a stick to the lip from New York forward Ruslan Fedotenko. Duchene briefly retreated to the locker room, thinking he might need stitches, before returning to the bench more determined.
“I think maybe it knocked some sense back into me,” said Duchene, his lip a little puffy.
Duchene scored on a shot that travelled through New York defenceman Michael Del Zotto and past goalie Henrik Lundqvist, the third goal he surrendered in the second period.
Lundqvist was pulled with 7:33 remaining in the period, giving way to Martin Biron, who promptly allowed a shot by Shattenkirk to trickle into the net.
“I felt like everything went their way in the second period, and that kind of killed the game,” Lundqvist said. “I don’t think we were that bad, we just needed a couple of more saves to keep us in the game. But we didn’t get it.”
Jones got the offence rolling by scoring 1:04 into the second period when he rammed in a rebound after Lundqvist deflected away a shot by Chris Stewart.
A few minutes later, Porter added another goal by poking the puck under Lundqvist’s pads off a pass from Duchene.
Porter was the star two nights earlier when he scored in overtime against the San Jose Sharks. He has five goals in seven games since being recalled from Lake Erie of the American Hockey League.
A scoreless first period featured one solid save after another by both goalies. Lundqvist stopped eight shots, enduring a little contact in the process. He was run into by Duchene and clipped by Jones.
Not to be outdone, Anderson turned back nine shots in the opening period, including one in which he slid over to block a shot down low by Alex Frolov, leading the crowd to begin a chant of “Andy.”
Anderson has been on the injured list since getting hurt during pregame warmups in Vancouver. Despite the long layoff, it didn’t take him long to get up to speed.
“There have been numerous times in my career where I sat 10 games and had to play,” Anderson said. “I think it’s mental toughness.”
As for what went wrong with the Rangers, New York coach John Tortorella didn’t mince words.
“I’ll put it to you this way: Their forwards were better than our forwards, their defence were better than our defence, their goaltending was better than our goaltending,” he said. “There’s no sense in me going into breakdowns.”
Fair to say he was upset with his squad’s performance?
“I’m not showing any upset, I’m being honest,” said Tortorella, who has 299 career NHL wins. “Their forwards were better, their defence was better and their goaltending was better.”
Notes: It was Stepan’s first goal since he had an opening-night hat trick at Buffalo. … The four goals in the second period were a season high for Colorado. … Avs D Scott Hannan tied a career high with two assists. … New York will play at Minnesota on Saturday. … Rangers F Marian Gaborik had an assist, giving him six points in four games. … Rangers F Sean Avery and Avalanche F Cody McLeod both received misconducts with just over a minute remaining. … Colorado will play Saturday night in Dallas. Avalanche coach Joe Sacco hadn’t decided yet who would be in goal.