Stars' Matt Duchene ends Avs' season in 2OT after no-goal call

29 days ago
Matt Duchene

Matt Duchene's heroics Friday put his current team in the Western Conference finals at the expense of the team that drafted him more than a decade ago.

An unmarked Duchene flicked his wrists, and in less than a second scored the winning goal that sent the Dallas Stars to a 2-1 double-overtime win in Game 6 against the Colorado Avalanche to close out their semifinal series.

"Those guys mucked hard at the end, and it just popped out to me," Duchene told Turner Sports after the game. "I put it in and then blacked out pretty much. I was so tired, I started skating and I got tired, and I don't even know what I did after that. I was pretty pumped up."

Duchene's goal and the events that led to it came with several moving parts.

Most notably, it sends the Stars back to the Western Conference final for a second straight season and for the third time in the past five years. They will face either the  Vancouver Canucks or the  Edmonton Oilers. The Canucks have a 3-2 series lead and could end the series Saturday in Edmonton, or the Oilers could force a Game 7 set for Monday in Vancouver.

In last season's conference final, the Stars lost in six games to the eventual champions, the  Vegas Golden Knights.

The goal also came after some controversy in the first extra period, when Duchene was involved in a Mason Marchment goal that was called back because of goaltender interference.

With 7:29 remaining in the first overtime, Duchene was battling with Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar for position in front of Avs goaltender Alexandar Georgiev. Marchment fired a shot on net that beat Georgiev. However, the goal was reviewed, with Duchene appearing to have impeded Georgiev in the crease while contacting Makar.

The NHL Situation Room, which is charged with reviewing goals, determined that Duchene impaired Georgiev's "ability to play his position in the crease prior to the puck entering the Colorado net." The ruling was made in accordance with Rule 69.1, which states that "an attacking player, either by his positioning or by contact, impairs the goalkeeper's ability to move freely within his crease or defend his goal."

"Duchy's ass was over the line," Marchment told reporters after the game. "His feet were outside, but his ass was over the line. So that's the explanation I got."

Duchene opened the second overtime with a chance to win it early. Stars defenseman Esa Lindell recovered the puck near the Stars' bench and played a pass through the seam that allowed Duchene to get the edge and skate toward the net. Duchene got a breakaway before Avs defenseman Josh Manson lunged forward and used his stick to disrupt Duchene's stick, which saw his offering reach the net but get stopped by Georgiev's right leg pad.

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Duchene's series-ending goal came soon after.

"You can imagine how we felt on the no-goal call," Duchene told Turner Sports. "Then the breakaway, I felt like I had a really good chance to score there. Obviously, it was a slash, but it got me on the stick, so it was a legal play."

Duchene's winning goal eliminated the club that drafted him with the No. 3 pick in 2009. Since he requested a trade in 2017, the Avs won the Stanley Cup in 2022 while Duchene played in three markets before signing a one-year deal with the Stars last offseason.

Duchene was part of a youth movement in Colorado that was built around promising stars such as Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen but had gone through a challenging 2016-17 season that saw them finish with 48 points. At the time, that was the fewest points in the salary-cap era.

Finishing with the worst record in the league led to the Avs getting the No. 4 pick and drafting future Norris Trophy winner Makar. Months after they drafted Makar, Duchene requested a trade.

A childhood Avalanche fan, he was traded to the Ottawa Senators as part of a three-team trade that saw the Avs receive defenseman Samuel Girard along with draft picks that later became Bowen Byram and Justus Annunen.

It was a trade that would help the Avalanche strengthen a foundation that eventually saw them win the third Cup in franchise history back in 2022.

"I have a lot of fond memories of being an Avs and they were my favorite team growing up," Duchene told TNT. "It was an absolute honor to be here, and it was one of the hardest things I had to do was to ask out. We were just at a crossroads, and they turned it around really quick, and I was happy for them when they won."

Duchene lasted a season and a half in Ottawa before he was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets. He helped the Jackets reached the playoffs that year before signing a seven-year contract with the Nashville Predators worth $8 million annually.

His time with the Predators was mixed. In 2021-22, he scored a career-high 43 goals and 86 points in 78 games. The following season saw him fall 30 points shy of 86 points while playing in seven fewer games.

A front-office shift led to the Predators making changes with one of those adjustments coming in the form of buying out Duchene. It made him a free agent and someone the Stars signed to a one-year deal worth $3 million.

With the Stars this season, Duchene reached the 20-goal mark for the 11th time in his career while hitting the 60-point plateau for the fourth time.

"God had a plan for me, and I'm just living out that plan," Duchene told TNT. "It's kind of fitting I guess that things went the way they did last night in a barn and in a place that meant a lot to me. ... I've nothing but fond memories as an Av and nothing but good feelings toward them."

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