Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 1/24/13
DENVER -- So far, not even pucks to the face can keep the Colorado Avalanche down. They just shake them off and keep on playing. John Mitchell came back from getting 10 stitches in the first period to score a goal, Matt Duchene scored twice and set up another goal and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-0 on Thursday night. Semyon Varlamov had 33 saves for his ninth career shutout and P.A. Parenteau had a goal and an assist for the Avalanche, who won their first two games at home despite leaving some blood on the ice. Mitchell, signed as a free agent from the New York Rangers, proved his toughness after taking a shot to the face from Adrian Aucoin early in the first period. He went to the locker room, didn’t return until the second period and then scored a big goal in the third. “Someone did their homework on John Mitchell,” Colorado defenseman Erik Johnson said. “He’s a hell of a hockey player and looks like a great find for us. I’ve never seen a guy, three games in a row, take such a beating. He got stitched up on his nose the first game, chipped a tooth last game and took 10 zips across the eyebrow tonight. He’s been probably our most valuable player.” Duchene was the best player on offense Thursday, scoring his first two goals of the season a game after he took a shot to the face against Los Angeles. He set up the first goal, scored the second and capped the night with a breakaway with 1:18 left.He wasn’t shocked Mitchell came back and played a key role. “For me I was a little dazed but I wanted to get back out and finish the game with the boys and I’m sure he wanted to, too,” Duchene said. The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, were stymied by Varlamov, who got his second career shutout against Columbus. They had quality chances among their 33 shots but the young Russian was sharp. Varlamov’s best save came late in the period when he stretched out with the left pad to deny Nick Foligno on a close-in shot. “That moment I almost pulled my groin,” he said. “That was not easy.” He came up big again early in the third when Ryan Johansen got behind the Avalanche defense and tipped a pass into Varlamov's chest. “He had a couple on me where he seemed to make a remarkable save,” Johansen said. “You’ve got to give him credit. He was sturdy and strong back there. It’s frustrating for our guys to not be able get one past him.” Varlomov’s counterpart, Sergei Bobrovsky, stopped 24 shots for the Blue Jackets, who have dropped two straight. Colorado wasted no time jumping in front. Parenteau took advantage of a Blue Jackets' line change when he took a cross-ice pass from Duchene and beat Bobrovsky with a wrist shot 51 seconds into the game. The Avalanche made it 2-0 later in the period when Duchene, double shifting on the third line, knocked in Hejduk's rebound with 7:35 left in the first frame. “We've got to be more sharp to start games,” Johansen said. “We have to have our focus a little stronger and everybody has to be on the same page. If we do that we'll be successful. I'm not concerned but we've got to keep working.” Colorado kept working even with a two-goal advantage and it paid off in the third. Mitchell beat Bobrovsky from the slot to make it 3-0 at the 4:38 mark. Duchene scored again, this time on a breakaway, to seal it. Columbus also had plenty of chances on the power play but couldn't cash in on any of its six opportunities. “We’ve got to be 2-for-6 (and) it's a whole different ballgame,” defenseman James Wisniewski said. “I had plenty of good opportunities and good looks I didn't score. I've got to take full responsibility for this.” NOTES: Milan Hejduk had two assists for Colorado. ... The Avalanche recalled C Brad Malone from Lake Erie of the American Hockey League to take the roster spot of LW Steve Downie. Downie is out for the season after tearing the ACL in his right knee in Tuesday's win over Los Angeles. Malone was a healthy scratch Thursday. ... Colorado LW Chuck Kobasew played for the first time this season and picked up his 200th career assist. ... Columbus LW Vinny Prospal still needs one power-play goal to tie Petr Klima for seventh all-time among Czech-born NHL players.
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