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Matt Duchene's team-leading 21 goals equals what he had last
season for the Avalanche. The comparison ends there, because Duchene has played in 39 fewer games in what has become a big bounce-back year.
No. 9 scored twice Sunday at Chicago in a 6-3 loss to the Blackhawks. He has played in every game this season (43) and last season (82).
"To this point it's been good, but the key for me is staying hungry — which I don't think is a very hard thing to do — and not getting complacent," Duchene said Monday after practice at team headquarters. "I want to put the same work in every day and focus on the same goals. It's tough to score a lot of goals in this league for a reason. It takes a lot of consistency, and not just physically, but mentally too. It's a lot of hard work at and away from the rink and I have to continue to do it because (scoring goals) is my role on this team."
Duchene, who will celebrate his 25th birthday Saturday, is on pace to shatter his career-high of 27 goals, set in his sophomore season of 2010-11. He produced 24 goals as a rookie has not scored less than 20 in any of his four full NHL seasons that don't include his injury-riddled 2011-12 or the lockout-shortened season of 2012-13.
"Last year, it was one of those years. Guys have them all the time. And sometimes the numbers are too cruel," Duchene said. "That weighs on you and doesn't help you springboard your game. This year, we have more guys seeing the production they're used to. It's definitely a good thing for everyone individually and that ties into the team."
Footnotes. Avs coach Patrick Roy said he will go back to goalie Semyon Varlamov as the starter Tuesday against the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning. Roy pulled Varlamov in Sunday's loss at the United Center. ... Defensemen Erik Johnson (knee) and Brad Stuart (back) did not skate Monday and are not close to returning. Because of that, blue-liner Brandon Gormley remains with the team after being on placed on waivers last week.
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