DENVER, CO - MARCH 22: Jonas Holos #36 of the Colorado Avalanche steal the puck from Jacob Voracek #93 of the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Pepsi Center on March 22, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Avalanche Vs. Blue Jackets: Colorado Needs Shootout, But Wins, 5-4

Matt Duchene and Daniel Winnik played heroes in the third period, while Milan Hejduk's goal in the shootout put them over the top, 5-4.

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Blue Jackets Vs. Avalanche Final Score: Colorado Outlasts Columbus, 5-4, In Shootout Victory

The Colorado Avalanche emerged on Tuesday night with a two-game winning streak, defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets, 5-4, in a shootout. Milan Hejduk, the first skater, scored the only goal of the shootout, 1-0.

The Blue Jackets started the scoring in the first period with a Rich Nash goal a little over two minutes into the game. But Ryan O'Reilly answered back a few minutes later with a goal of his own. Columbus broke the tie in the second period with a shorthanded Derek MacKenzie goal, but the third period was ready for some action.

Columbus extended the lead to 3-1 on a third-period R.J. Umberger goal, but Matt Duchene responded with two goals in a seven-minute span to tie the game at three. But R.J. Umberger didn't want any of that and scored a goal with roughly three minutes left in the game. Yet with four seconds left on the clock Daniel Winnik added a power play goal to tie the game and send it to overtime. With overtime scoreless, Hejduk took the first shot of the shootout and scored the only goal to give Colorado the victory.

Colorado's Brian Elliott stopped 29 of 33 shots, while Columbus' Steve Mason prevented 28 of 32.

The Avalanche host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. MT.


Avalanche Vs. Blue Jackets: Fading Teams Face Each Other

The Columbus Blue Jackets arrive at Pepsi Center with their once faint playoff hopes essentially dashed. After making the franchise's first playoff appearance in 2008-2009,  Columbus thought they had the beginnings of a series of postseason appearances in front of them. Armed with top forward Rick Nash and blooming center Derick Brassard -- and with the emergence of young goalie stud Steve Mason -- hockey fans in Ohio finally had something to cheer for.

Unfortunately, that early promise has not come to fruition since. A strong early start led many to believe that Columbus had bounced back, but the tough Central Division has relegated the Blue Jackets to another year of mediocrity; not good enough to see the playoffs, but not quite bad enough to get an impact player in the draft. A rough March has doomed them, as a 2-5-4 record is simply not good enough for a team with playoff aspirations.

The Colorado Avalanche, however, have been in complete freefall since January. Before last Saturday's shootout victory over the cellar-dwelling Edmonton Oilers, the Avalanche had beaten only the St. Louis Blues since January 24. The break in between games has allowed veteran winger Milan Hejduk to finally get healthy again as he attempts to set a franchise record for consecutive 20-goal seasons. He currently sits at 19 goals for the season.

Colorado currently sits with the second worst record in the NHL, one point behind the Ottawa Senators. If the season ended today, they would have a decent chance at the top overall pick in this year's draft, and would pick no lower than third. Though losses are frustrating for fans, it's the best hope for future success at this point.

Brian Elliott will start in net for Colorado. Steve Mason will be the starting goalie for Columbus.

Puck drops at 7:00 p.m. MDT.

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