DENVER -- Redemption for the Colorado Avalanche came in the form of a hard-fought 4-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday at Pepsi Center.
The Avalanche were steamrolled 8-2 the last time the teams met, Dec. 5 in Edmonton.
"It was a nightmare, especially for me," said Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov, who gave up all eight goals on 28 shots two weeks ago. "But it was a long time ago and you forget about it and just look forward."
Varlamov was especially strong in the third period Thursday when he stopped all 14 Oilers shots before Matt Duchene sealed the win by scoring into an empty net with 1.1 seconds left to complete a three-point performance.
"Of course Edmonton came out harder than in the first and second periods trying to score goals," said Varlamov, who finished with 27 saves. "I thought we played solid defensively."
The win gave the Avalanche, who are third in the Central Division, a 23-10-1 record and 47 points, two more than the Minnesota Wild, who lost 5-2 on the road to the Pittsburgh Penguins and have played three more games.
"It was an important win for us," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "You don't want to use words like 'crucial' or 'must win,' but it was an important two points for us."
The Oilers lost all four games of their road trip and they have been outscored 18-4 during a five-game losing streak, matching their longest slump of the season.
"It took us until the third period until we got our legs underneath us," coach Dallas Eakins said. "We weren't skating, we weren't supporting the puck. It looked like we were looking to the people next to us to do the job and it can never be that way. You have to take it on yourself. Good things don't come to people who wait. Good things come to people who take charge and take control. We didn't do that."
Ryan O'Reilly and Maxime Talbot scored 3:28 apart late in the second period to give the Avalanche a 3-2 lead before Duchene's empty-netter.
O'Reilly, who had one goal in his previous 12 games, tied the game with 5:00 remaining in the middle period by completing a pretty passing play with Nathan MacKinnon and Duchene.
Duchene was in the right circle when he passed to MacKinnon, who immediately fed O'Reilly cutting to the net on the left side. O'Reilly redirected the puck behind goalie Devan Dubnyk, who faced 38 shots.
"Nate made an outstanding play to [O'Reilly]," said Duchene, who has four goals and six assists in the past five games. "Empty-net goals are nice to get, but they're kind of lucky. I would like to have scored something earlier. I was in a huge slump before this so you just stick with it to try and get back to basics. You just want to keep it going here."
The Avalanche took their first lead of the game with 1:32 remaining in the middle period on Talbot's shorthanded goal, which came 31 seconds after Colorado's Patrick Bordeleau was penalized for interference. Marc-Andre Cliche led a 2-on-1 rush into the Oilers' end following an Edmonton turnover. Cliche skated down right wing and passed across to Talbot, who went to his backhand and slid the puck past Dubnyk's right skate.
"Any time you get a goal like that, it's always huge, but the main thing to do is to kill the penalty, which we were able to do," said Talbot, who has 16 shorthanded goals in his NHL career. "Getting a goal there is obviously extra. Back in the day, I think I had five [shorthanded goals] one year. It's always nice to get some chances and it was nice to put it back there.
"They are a good team. You can't just look at their record and say, 'Oilers are in town.' We knew what happened last time when we played there, and we came up ready."
The Avalanche enjoyed a 17-5 advantage in shots on goal in the first period, but the Oilers took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Taylor Hall, who sped down the right side and beat Varlamov to the glove side with a wrist shot for his fourth goal in two games against him this season.
The Avalanche tied the game at 1:07 of the second period on a goal by Tyson Barrie during a 5-on-3 power play.
The Oilers' Sam Gagner was assessed a major penalty for cross-checking and a game misconduct at 18:32 of the first period for striking Paul Stastny in the face after a faceoff and Hall was given an unsportsmanlike penalty at the 20-minute mark.
Duchene fed Barrie in the right circle for a shot that sailed past Dubnyk's glove for the Avalanche's second power-play goal in 38 chances covering parts of 13 games. The Oilers killed off the final 2:25 of Gagner's penalty after Hall returned to the ice.
Eakins was surprised by the major penalty because the original call was a two-minute minor.
"Listen, the Gagner penalty was a penalty," Eakins said. "I thought it was by accident when that stick came up. I thought you could see it immediately, when the guy went down, he was concerned. When you mean to do it, you skate away with a smirk on your face. All I was looking for from the official was the explanation, that he went over to the box, signaled two minutes with his finger, did the cross-check [signal], put Sam in the box. Suddenly, everything changed after the Jumbotron showed it. I was looking for an explanation."
Eakins said Hall "did not say one thing" to the referee.
"Another player said it that was going down the hallway and it was nothing terrible," Eakins said. "To light up a guy, to put you down 5 on 3, I came out at the start of the period, after a cooling-off period, as we're supposed to do as coaches, and was basically told by the ref to ... I can't say what he said to me. Just looking for simple explanations but couldn't get them."
The Oilers went ahead 2-1 at 12:10 of the period when Hall stole the puck from defenseman Erik Johnson after a poor pass by defense partner Jan Hejda. Hall fed Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who scored from right in front.
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