DENVER – The Colorado Avalanche’s two-month drought in Denver ended, thanks to a timely goal.
Daniel Winnik tied the game with a power-play goal with three seconds left in regulation, Milan Hejduk scored the only goal in the shootout and the Avalanche beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-4 on Tuesday night for their first home win since Jan. 24.
The Avalanche snapped a nine-game home losing streak and have won two straight overall after dropping 20 of their last 21.
“Were not going to lay over and die here,” said Matt Duchene, who had two goals.
The Avalanche sent the game into overtime when Winnik scored on a rebound off a faceoff. With Brian Elliott off for an extra skater and Columbus’ Jan Hejda in the penalty box, Duchene won the faceoff with seven seconds left. Paul Stastny got the puck to Erik Johnson, who fired a slap shot that hit defenceman Fedor Tyutin. The puck came to Winnik, who one-timed it for his 10th goal of the season.
“It hit their D in the shoulder and the puck popped right there under my stick, open net,” Winnik said. “So it was just a matter of me putting it back in the net. I don’t think I’ve ever had a game-tying goal like that. Maybe back in college.”
The win ended months of frustration for Colorado, which has gone from leading the Northwest Division in December to 14th place in the Western Conference.
“We have to play the role of spoiler right now, and we have to take pride in that,” Elliott said.
Ryan O’Reilly scored a goal, Mark Olver and Matt Hunwick had two assists each and Elliott had 29 saves for the Avalanche.
R.J. Umberger had two goals, including one short-handed. Derek MacKenzie also scored a short-handed goal and added an assist for the Columbus.
Rick Nash had a goal and Mason made 28 saves for the Blue Jackets. Hejda had two assists for Columbus, which felt it let a game slip away after leading 3-1 with 14 minutes left.
“You get two short-handed goals, it should win you a hockey game,” Columbus coach Scott Arniel said. “For 50 minutes we played a heck of a hockey game. Then the last 10 we made some mental mistakes that cost us goals, right up to the last three seconds of the game.”
Elliott made three point-blank saves in the final minute of overtime to preserve the tie.
“Just getting to overtime was huge for us,” Elliott said.
The Blue Jackets took a 4-3 lead with 3:05 left whenUmberger took the puck along the right boards and slipped a shot through Elliott’s legs for his 23rd goal of the season.
Colorado pulled Elliott with 1:15 left for an extra skater.
The Blue Jackets led 3-1 early in the second period when the Avalanche rallied on the strength of Duchene’s stick. Duchene scored 45 seconds after Umberger had given Columbus the two-goal lead with his third short-handed goal of the season with 13:01 left.
“I’d give them both back for the win,” Umberger said of his two goals. “When you play your hearts out for 60 minutes and then lose it in a shootout, that should not have happened.”
Duchene tied it with 5:24 left when he redirected a pass from Olver from behind the net through Mason’s legs.
“Matt Duchene had a strong game and that line was particularly good,” Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said.
The game was tied 1-1 when the Blue Jackets jumped on top. Their first short-handed goal came when Derek Dorsett stole the puck from Johnson at the Avalanche blue line, fed MacKenzie in front of the net and MacKenzie beat Elliott with his ninth goal of the season midway through the second period.
The Blue Jackets wasted little time getting on the board with Nash’s 32nd goal of the season just 2:14 into the game. The Avalanche responded 3:45 later when O’Reilly put a rebound past Mason for his ninth goal of the season.
Notes: The Blue Jackets entered tied for 22nd in the NHL with four short-handed goals. … Hejduk became the third player in franchise history to play 900 NHL games for the club and the first to play all 900 exclusively as a member of the Avalanche. … Columbus LW Ethan Moreau also played in his 900th NHL game.