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In Battle of the NHL Rookies, Matt Duchene Comes Out on Top

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Duchene, MattColorado Avalanche star draft pick Matt Duchene is finally starting to come along. The rookie had two goals and an assist last night, leading his team to a 3-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The game was notable because Duchene (left) was matched up against fellow rookie Victor Hedman, the player who was picked second overall earlier this year in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, one spot ahead of Duchene.

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But, as The Denver Post points out, it was Duchene who came out on top last night. He has come close to being spectacular several times this season, only to hit a crossbar or miss the net, but last night he found the mark. Duchene now has three goals and four points in his last three games, showing he has more than just potential.

Mile High Hockey calls the Avs’ performance anything but perfect: They were outshot 16-6 in the third period and gave the Lightning seven power-play opportunities. The win, however, stops the Avs’ bleeding of late, but not soon enough to preserve the division lead they’ve held for the majority of the season. The Avs sit two points behind the Calgary Flames for the second spot in the Northwest Division, with 35 points, which is still good enough to be tied for third place in the Western Conference (via NHL.com).

Unfortunately, Colorado will have to keep chugging without standout young forward David Jones, who tore his ACL during a game against the Minnesota Wild over the weekend, ending his promising year. Jones had 10 goals and six assists in 23 games this year, more than equaling his total output over the last two seasons, writes Inside Hockey.

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