He was eased back into play early in the game with fourth-line duty, but that quickly changed. Late in the opening period, head coach Patrick Roy already moved Duchene back up to play with Ryan O'Reilly in the pairing that played together all season. Duchene picked up an assist in 18:52 of ice time, and, despite the loss, his return had an obvious impact on the Avs. His creativity and speed were at times on display even though there might have been a little rust.
"You got to learn to trust an injury like that when you come back," Duchene said. "As the game went on, I got more confident with it. There's still a long ways to go, but next game is Game 7, and you lay it all on the line."
He still needs time before he's himself again, 100 percent.
"It went probably how I expected [it] to in terms of how I felt," Duchene said. "There's a long way to go for me, but I've got to find it quick here for Game 7."
Game 7, indeed. It's a series that deserves to go the maximum, and there is so little to choose from between these two clubs.
"It's been like that all season long when we play those guys," Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog said. "It's tight hockey. It's back and forth, and it's a grinding type of game. I'm looking forward to Game 7; I'm assuming it's going to be the same thing."
And it's in Denver, which is significant in a series in which the home team has gone 6-0.
"We fought all year to be in this position, if there was a Game 7. It's in our building in front of our fans," Roy said. "I think it's exciting. It's great for our team. It's going to be a great experience. I'm sure our players are excited about it. We're not happy to lose tonight, but both teams played well and it was a great hockey game that could have gone either way. It went their way tonight."
Why such a homer series? Is it the crowd? The last line-change advantage?
"All of the above, I think," Landeskog said. "Especially [the] last change is always big and important. You want your matchups, and, certainly, it plays a big role. Absolutely."
The way these two teams have gone back and forth in this series, you figure overtime is in order for Game 7. What better way to end a series that's provided all kinds of entertainment?