Gabriel Landeskog broke a tie with 13:46 remaining as part of Colorado’s four-goal third period to help the Avalanche beat the Ottawa Senators 6-3 on Friday night and spoil a two-goal performance from Matt Duchene in his return to Denver.
Landeskog gave Colorado the lead for good by knocking in his ninth goal of the season off a feed from Mikko Rantanen. Colorado outscored the Senators 6-1 after falling behind 2-0 midway through the first period.
Samuel Girard, Carl Soderberg, Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Nieto also scored for Colorado. Girard’s goal was the first by an Avalanche defenseman this season.
Colorado’s top line of Landeskog, MacKinnon and Rantanen finished with a combined 10 points. Rantanen had three assists.
Ryan Dzingel scored the game’s first goal for Ottawa.
Goaltender Philipp Grubauer started his first home game for the Avalanche and stopped 21 shots. Craig Anderson made 31 saves for the Senators.
Duchene was greeted with a mixture of cheers and boos as he took the ice in the place where he spent his first eight-plus seasons. A disgruntled Duchene was traded to Ottawa last November as part of a three-team deal.
For the occasion, Duchene rented a suite at the Pepsi Center for his wife, family and friends. He tipped in a shot in the first period and scored again on a break in the second to stake the Senators to a 3-1 lead.
The Ottawa center was honored by the Avalanche midway through the first period. Duchene stood up on the bench and clapped in appreciation while his former teammates banged their sticks against the boards.
Duchene was the third overall pick in 2009 by Colorado and scored 178 goals with the Avalanche, which is seventh on the franchise’s all-time list.
It was an awkward parting for Duchene, whose desire to leave was fueled in part by not wanting to be involved in another rebuilding project with Colorado. His Senators squad finished with the second-fewest points last season, while the Avalanche made the playoffs as the No. 8 seed.
“Sometimes you have to make tough decisions,” Duchene said before the game. “I enjoyed my time here and it was an honor.”
He had dinner Thursday with Landeskog.
“I gave everything I had when I played here, right up to the last day,” said Duchene, who has a house in the area and met his wife in Denver. “This city is still home for me and will always be.”
Notes: Senators LW Zack Smith went to the dressing room in the second period with an injury. … Colorado has a vested interest in the Senators this season. As part of the trade that also included Nashville, the Avs will have Ottawa’s 2019 first-round pick. “It would be nice to get a high pick,” MacKinnon said. “But I expect them to be a good team.”
Senators: Stop No. 2 on their three-game trip will be Sunday in Vegas.
Avalanche: Turn around and play at Minnesota on Saturday. The Avs were 3-8-0 in the second game of a back-to-back last season.
Source: The Associated Press