Duchene, Varlamov lead Avalanche past Lightning 4-0
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Matt Duchene broke out of an offensive slump and Semyon Varlamov was strong again as the Colorado Avalanche are putting together a solid road trip.
Duchene had two goals and an assist, Varlamov made 27 saves for his 21st career shutout and the Avalanche beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0 on Thursday night.
“He’s a big horse for us,” Avalanche right wing Jarome Iginla said of Duchene. “He’s been good the first few games, but tonight he took it to a new level.”
Andreas Martinsen and Carl Soderberg scored for the Avalanche, who are 2-1 on a four-game trip. Colorado beat Pittsburgh in overtime and lost to Washington earlier on the trip.
“We did a lot of good things,” Duchene said.
Duchene scored in the final minute of both the first and second periods. Varlamov made a strong save on Nikita Kucherov’s low right circle shot in the second.
“Varly, real rock solid performance by him again,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said.
Varlamov is 9-3-2 with three shutouts in 15 games against the Lightning.
Tampa Bay went 3-1 on a season-opening four-game homestand. The Lightning allowed the first goal in all four games.
“You just can’t keep testing fate,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “Eventually you’re not going to come back.”
After Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos couldn’t control the puck at the Lightning blue line, Duchene skated in alone down the slot and opened the scoring with 24.1 seconds left in the first on a rebound after his first shot was turned aside by Ben Bishop. Duchene had been pointless in his previous five games, including three this season.
Stamkos finished the game at minus-3.
Several minutes after getting shaken up in a collision near the Tampa Bay blue line with teammate Ben Smith, Duchene returned and made it 2-0 with 51.2 seconds remaining in the second with a knee-high deflection of Patrick Wiercioch’s shot.
“That puck is going three feet wide,” Cooper said. “Duchene makes an unreal tip on that.”
Duchene has seven goals and 11 points in 11 games against Tampa Bay.
Colorado took a 3-0 lead at 7:53 of the third when Bishop was caught out of position when Joe Colborne’s dump-in took a weird bounce off the glass in the left wing corner and went into the left circle, where Martinsen scored into the vacated net.
Duchene assisted on Soderberg’s goal later in the third.
Bishop stopped 12 shots.
NOTES: Lightning founder Phil Esposito dropped the ceremonial first puck on the 20th anniversary of the first NHL game in the building known as the Ice Palace in 1996. Tampa Bay beat the Wayne Gretzky-led New York Rangers 5-2 in that game. ... Colorado C Nathan MacKinnon had an assist and has 11 points in seven games against Tampa Bay. ... Martinsen stopped an 11-game goal drought.
Avalanche: Complete the four-game road trip Saturday against Florida.
Lightning: Start a six-game road trip Saturday at Ottawa. Former Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher is in his first season coaching the Senators.