Avalanche snap skid with 5-3 win over Columbus

By: AP Sports
By: AP Sports
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DENVER -- After struggling much of the season, Colorado at last made the most of its power play.

The Avalanche went 3 for 3 with the man advantage, getting power-play scores from Ryan O'Reilly, Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon as Colorado beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-3 on Tuesday night to snap a four-game losing streak.

Jamie McGinn and Jan Hejda also scored for the Avalanche, who won despite being outshot 38-23. Semyon Varlamov made 35 saves for Colorado.

"They took it to us on the 5-on-5," said Colorado's Matt Duchene, who had two assists. "So we got those chances on the power play. That is where we wanted to bear down and we did it."

Nick Foligno, Boone Jenner and Ryan Johansen scored Columbus' goals.

The effectiveness Colorado showed on the power play was in contrast to their record coming into the game, ranking 18th in the league and converting 22 of 129 previous opportunities.

"It has been so-so all year," Landeskog said. "But we've worked on it. We moved the puck around and it worked. We had some good opportunities and then we opened it up."

While Colorado capitalized on its power play, Columbus was shut down by the Avs' penalty-killing unit, going 0 for 3 with the man advantage.

"We out-worked them, out-shot them and out-chanced them. And we still came up short," Columbus center Mark Letestu said. "Our penalty-kill has to step up here. That's two games we have been burned pretty good there. As a group, we have to look in the mirror and be better."

Leading 3-2, Colorado scored on the power play for the second time when Paul Stastny passed across the slot to Landeskog, who was perched on the doorstep. Landeskog put the puck into an open net at 8:10 of the third period.

Just 37 seconds later, Foligno responded with a wraparound shot that got past Varlamov to again narrow the Blue Jackets' deficit to one.

Columbus snapped a 1-1 tie at 8:34 of the second period on a goal by Jenner, but the Blue Jackets couldn't hold the lead as the Avalanche scored twice less than 3 minutes apart later in the period.

Duchene's shot from the slot bounded away from goalie Curtis McElhinney and onto the stick of McGinn, who backhanded the rebound into the net to make it 2-2 at 12:04 of the second.

The Avalanche then capitalized on a power play to take the lead at 14:42 of the second with Duchene again in the middle of the action. His shot was stopped by McElhinney, but the rebound again got away. O'Reilly gathered in the loose puck and knocked it into the net to put the Avalanche up by one at 14:42 of the second.

The Blue Jackets scored first 4:13 into the game.

Foligno muscled his way past defenseman Hejda to get a shot that bounced off the pads of Varlamov. Johansen beat MacKinnon and slapped the puck past Varlamov for his 16th goal.

Hejda, who spent four seasons with Columbus from 2007-11, made amends at 6:33. He got to a loose puck along the boards, and his slap shot from the left point wriggled through McElhinney's pads for his fourth goal.

Game notes

Duchene had a team-leading 16 points in December (4 goals, 12 assists). ... The Avalanche hosted a New Year's Eve game at the Pepsi Center for the first time. ... Johansen has 10 goals and eight assists in his last 17 games. ... Columbus is 6-17-2 against Colorado. ... The Avalanche improved to 9-3 against Eastern Conference teams this season.

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