Colorado at Buffalo

Avalanche keep gaining ground on Wild in West chase

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Whatever emotions Paul Stastny has about breaking one of his dad's records can wait. The rookie forward is determined to get the Colorado Avalanche back into playoff contention.

Stastny did his part Wednesday night, setting up two goals to extend the Avalanche's win streak to five games with a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Fellow rookie Wojtek Wolski sealed it by scoring the go-ahead goal 1:41 into the third period.

But Stastny earned the limelight, extending his point streak to 17 games to match the NHL rookie record set in 1993 by Winnipeg's Teemu Selanne. And he also broke the franchise record set by his father, Peter, in 1980.

"Oh, it won't hit me until summer. But I'm more happy about our team success," Stastny said. "Like everyone says, it's a lot more fun in the locker room when you're winning. If we can keep this up, good things will happen for all of us."

Milan Hejduk had a goal and assist, and Brett McLean also scored for the Avalanche, who are on their best roll since winning eight straight midway through last season.

The ninth-place Avalanche (34-29-5) moved to within six points of idle Minnesota in the race for the Western Conference's final playoff spot.

Jason Pominville and Nathan Paetsch scored for the East-leading Sabres, who had a three-game winning streak snapped and lost for the third time in 12 games (9-2-1).

The Sabres lost despite the return of co-captain Chris Drury, who missed four games with a concussion after being blindsided by Ottawa's Chris Neil two weeks ago. Drury, playing on a line with newly acquired forward Dainius Zubrus, did have a solid scoring chance, but had his snap shot from the slot gloved by Peter Budaj.

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was disappointed with his team's sloppiness, which led to all three Colorado goals. Hejduk scored short-handed; McLean scored after Hejduk beat Buffalo defenders to the puck behind the Sabres net; and Wolski's goal was set up by Joe Sakic, who outraced the Sabres to a dump-in at the left boards.

"All of our goals (allowed) were mistakes," Ruff said. "They were off of situations that we shouldn't allow."

The Sabres lacked desperation, added Pominville.

"You're not going to win many games if the other team is more desperate than you are," Pominville said. "We weren't sharp enough."

The Avalanche are playing with renewed motivation. They haven't missed the playoffs since 1994 when the team was still based in Quebec City. Colorado will wrap up its five-game road trip at Minnesota on Sunday.

It's no surprise that Sakic, the team's veteran captain, had a hand in the decisive goal, feeding the puck into the crease, where Wolski tipped it in. The assist was the 965th of Sakic's career, moving him into 11th on the NHL list, one ahead of Doug Gilmour.

"Right now we seem to be on a roll and playing with a lot of confidence," Sakic said. "All we can do is try to keep winning and put some pressure on and try to get us back in the race."

Sakic credited Stastny for helping spur the Avs' run.

"He's having such a great year and he hasn't slowed down one bit," Sakic said. "Really both him and Milan, they've really carried us through this streak."

Stastny's prettiest play came in setting up Hejduk's goal that tied the game at 1 midway through the first period. Sneaking up the left wing, Stastny eluded two Sabres defenders, drove around the net and fed Hejduk, who scored on a one-timer from the right circle.

Notes

  • The Avs have won four straight road games, their longest streak since winning four in a row in January 2004.
  • The Sabres entered the day with the same record (44-16-5) as they had through 65 games last season after which they stumbled through an 0-5-1 stretch.
  • Stastny's streak is the longest in the NHL this season, and the best run since Ottawa's Dany Heatley had a point in 22 consecutive games from Oct. 5 to Nov. 29, 2005.
  • Budaj had 19 saves to win his fifth straight.
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Paul Stastny gets cheers from teammates after tying a rookie points streak in 17 games. (Getty Images)
Paul Stastny gets cheers from teammates after tying a rookie points streak in 17 games. (Getty Images)

Scoreboard
Colorado  (34-29-5) «1113
Buffalo (44-17-5)1102
Three Stars
M. Hejduk
COL


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 1
P. Stastny
COL


Goals: 0
Assist(s): 2
J. Pominville
BUF


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0
Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
02:00Nathan Paetsch (2), Wrist Shot - Assists: Brian Campbell, Adam Mair
09:58Short - Milan Hejduk (28), Wrist Shot - Assists: Paul Stastny, Kurt Sauer
2ND PERIOD
00:12Brett McLean (12), Wrist Shot - Assists: Milan Hejduk, Paul Stastny
12:43Jason Pominville (27), Tip-In - Assists: Daniel Briere, Jochen Hecht
3RD PERIOD
01:41Wojtek Wolski (20), Tip-In - Assists: Joe Sakic, Andrew Brunette
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
08:06Parker: Interference - 2 min.
14:35Kaleta: Tripping - 2 min.
2ND PERIOD
05:41Hecht: Cross Check - 2 min.
05:41Guite: High sticking - 2 min.
3RD PERIOD
10:39McLean: Hooking - 2 min.
SHOTS ON GOAL
 123T
Colorado5111329
Buffalo107421
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGA
Peter Budaj60:00192
Ryan Miller59:13263
Game Information
Attendance - 18690
Referees - Mike Leggo, Chris Rooney
Linesmen - Jean Morin, Brian Murphy
 
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