OTTAWA – Good fortune is smiling on the Ottawa Senators’ Ryan Shannon these days, but not even his hot hand around the net could cool off the Colorado Avalanche.
Shannon scored a pair of goals Wednesday, his third and fourth in the past three games after waiting until Boxing Day to notch his first of the year.
It still wasn’t enough, though, and the Avalanche held off a furious Ottawa comeback to win for the fourth time in five games with a 4-3 victory at Scotiabank Place.
“All the bounces I missed at the beginning of the year are going my way now. I don’t want to talk about it,” Shannon said, fearful of jinxing himself.
The Avalanche (23-12-6) appears to hold some kind of hex over the Eastern Conference, however.
Ryan O’Reilly’s goal early in the third period proved to be the winner and Colorado improved to 8-2-1 against the East, including 5-1-1 on the road.
The Northwest Division-leading Avalanche is a perfect 4-0 against the Northeast Division after knocking off the Senators, a stat O’Reilly had a tough time explaining.
“I don’t know what it is,” O’Reilly said. “A lot of guys are from here. They must just be used to the time or something like that. We’re just able to play different.
“We just enjoy coming here and we worked for (the win).”
O’Reilly’s goal gave the Avalanche a 4-1 lead at the time, but after the Senators battled back for a furious finish, it proved to be the difference before a crowd of 17,823 at Scotiabank Place.
“It was a good game and it’s always nice to win those,” O’Reilly said. “Around the 10-minute mark, we let them come right back into it and that’s been a tendency for us lately, but we are young and we have the leadership and we’re changing that. In order for us to be successful down the road, that’s something we have to do.”
Rookie Matt Duchene, Kyle Quincey and Chris Durno, for the second straight game, also scored for the Avalanche.
Craig Anderson stopped 27 shots as the Avalanche won for the second game in a row.
The Senators also saw left-winger Nick Foligno return from the injury list with a goal following arthroscopic knee surgery that forced him to miss the past seven games.
Ottawa (20-16-4) also saw its own two-game win streak stopped.
Leclaire finished with 16 saves.
“All our guys played well, you can’t really fault too many guys,” Senators coach Cory Clouston said. “We generated 30 shots, we gave up 20. There’s not much more you can do.”
Leclaire would have liked to have done better on Duchene’s goal that made it 3-1 early in the second period.
Ottawa got off to a good start when Shannon, who’s getting a chance to play on what’s become the Senators’ top line alongside Mike Fisher and Alex Kovalev with Daniel Alfredsson (shoulder) and Jason Spezza (knee) out of the lineup, scored 8 ½ minutes into the game.
Shannon didn’t have a goal in his first 29 games of the season. When he banked a pass attempt off the skate of Avalanche defenceman Kyle Cumiskey and past Anderson, it was the third straight game he’d scored in, with all three of those goals coming off of the other team’s players.
Cumiskey had been playing for the first time since being placed on the injured reserve list Nov. 23 with a foot injury.
Colorado rallied to take the lead before the period was over, however, when Quincey and Durno, who notched his first NHL goal on Boxing Day against Dallas, replied.
Duchene put the Avalanche ahead by a pair of goals 1:19 into the second, beating Leclaire with a shot from the faceoff circle.
“I think it’s a shot I should have had,” Leclaire said. “It’s 2-1, it made it 3-1 and things are a lot more complicated.”
O’Reilly put Ottawa in even more dire straits when a goal early in the third, but the Senators made for a tense finish for Colorado when Foligno re-directed a point shot by Matt Carkner and Shannon scored his second from close range with a little less than six minutes to go.
A frantic final minute saw the Senators come close to tying it on a couple of occasions.
NOTES: Earlier in the day, Ottawa defenceman Filip Kuba and forwards Milan Michalek and Jarkko Ruutu were named to their respective Olympic teams for the upcoming Vancouver Games. Kuba and Michalek will represent the Czech Republic, while Ruutu will suit up for Finland. . . Colorado forward Milan Hejduk was a notable absentee from the Czech roster. . . The Senators scratched rookie defenceman Erik Karlsson for the third straight game. . . Veteran defenceman John-Michael Liles was among the healthy scratches for the Avalanche.