TBT: Matt Duchene’s First NHL Hat Trick


In honor of Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon‘s first NHL hat trick, and the fact the Avalanche are facing the Dallas Stars tomorrow night, let’s look at another youngster’s first NHL hat trick. On November 4, 2011, Matt Duchene earned his first NHL hat trick against the Dallas Stars in Dallas.

Duchene was drafted in 2009, so the hat trick came at the beginning of his third season with the Avalanche. It was during the Joe Sacco years, which were not great for the team. However, despite the difficulty of the coaching situation, Duchene was starting to show his mettle as a player.

The first goal came during a first period power play. (Remember when we didn’t dread those?) Duchene was just deking and dangling, holding the puck like he was playing keepaway with the Stars’ penalty killers. (Well, he probably was.) As he glided toward the ice, he unleashed his sniper’s wrist shot, and it beat Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen.

The score put the Avs up 2-0 over the Stars.

His next tally came in the second period with the Avs down 4-2. (Yes, that means the Avalanche allowed four straight goals by Dallas — let’s not focus on that.) With the period winding down, Duchene was on the ice with his then-linemates Milan Hejduk and Paul Stastny. They worked down low in front of the Stars net.

And then Duchene just swooped in, unleashed a shot from an impossible angle and beat Lehtonen again. The Avalanche had narrowed the divide to 4-3 with just a couple minutes left in the second.

Midway through the third period, the score was 5-5. (It was one of those games.) The Avs were on the power play again. Duchene waltzed right into the slot, wristed from a tough angle and beat Lehtonen yet again. Bingo, Dutchy’s first career hat trick.

Unfortunately the Avalanche went on to lose the game 7-6 in overtime — because it was one of those games as well. It was a time when the defense was bad and goalie Semyon Varlamov was even worse (.759 save percentage).

The action also took place in the American Airlines Center in Dallas, so Duchene didn’t even get to enjoy the rain of hats. No mind, when discussing MacKinnon’s first hat trick, Duchene stated he remembered his with great happiness.

So, the Avalanche could use a little of that Duchene magic tomorrow night against those selfsame Stars in that selfsame arena. Defense is still a little tough with cornerstone defenseman Erik Johnson still out. However, goal tending is so much better, and the coaching has improved exponentially.

In other words, if Duchene skates and shoots the puck with the confidence he displayed on November 4, 2011, against the Stars, the Avalanche have an excellent chance of winning.

Next: Duchene Trade Not Happening

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