Going in to Saturday’s contest against the Minnesota Wild, there was a very familiar storyline for the Colorado Avalanche. Already missing P.A. Parenteau, Alex Tanguay and Nate Guenin, the Avs were to be without David van der Gulik (head), Tyson Barrie (shoulder) and Nick Holden (personal reasons); all of whom had played the previous night against the New York Islanders (a 2-1 overtime loss).
But it was an injured player returning to the lineup that made the difference in the contest.
"We both really like playing with each other and really understand the way each other play," said Duchene. "We like that give-and-go hockey, try and jump into holes and that's how we got the game-winner tonight."
O’Reilly ended the game with two tallies; and the Avalanche added an empty netter from Maxime Talbot to seal a 4-2 victory.
Due to the injury of Barrie, and Holden remaining Denver with his wife expected to give birth at any time; Ryan Wilson rejoined the team. Wilson returned from a conditioning assignment with the Lake Erie Monsters that was expected to last until Jan. 19.
Also recalled from the Monsters was defenseman Karl Stollery. The 26-year old made his NHL debut, finishing the contest with two penalty minutes and a plus-one rating in just under 11 minutes of ice time.
Undrafted out of Merrimack College, Stollery joined the Monsters on an amateur tryout contract in 2012. In that nine-game audition he put up seven points, earning a one-year AHL contract for the following campaign. The Avalanche signed Stollery to a two-way contract in May. He had 11 points in 29 games for the Monsters this season prior to being called up by the Avs.
The Wild outshot the Avalanche 27-18 in the contest, but the Avalanche limited the second-chance opportunities and grinded out a hard-fought victory.
"A character win for us," said Avs coach Patrick Roy. "Both teams have been hit pretty hard with injuries. It was an important game for both teams, we're glad we are on the winning side."
The Avalanche did not make it through the contest completely unscathed however, as center Paul Stastny left the game with an apparent leg injury. According to Roy, Stastny should play Tuesday against the Chicago Blackhawks.