Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now

Calgary at Colorado

Avalanche hold off Flames, take over first place in Northwest Division

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

DENVER -- With a new coach and a young squad, the Colorado Avalanche were picked by many prognosticators to finish in the back of the pack.

Way back -- just as they did last season.

Nearing the midway point of the season, though, the Avalanche are sitting in first place in the Northwest Division after a 3-2 victory against Calgary on Sunday night.

So much for preseason predictions.

"Everyone picked us to finish last. That just motivated us," said Wojtek Wolski, who had a goal and an assist. "We kind of almost snuck up on a lot of teams. ... We're definitely a hard team to play against now."

The Flames certainly won't disagree.

Calgary coach Brent Sutter was quite displeased with his team's play, especially through the first two periods when the Flames were penalty prone and lacked discipline.

"I thought tonight's game was a very, very important game. But obviously it was just the coaches who thought that," Sutter said. "It's a tough league to be average in."

The Avalanche are 3-0 against the Flames this season, a fact that doesn't sit well with captain Jarome Iginla.

"We all knew the importance of it," Iginla said.

The Avalanche have won four of their past five to take a two-point lead on the Flames in the division.

Craig Anderson, making his second start since returning from a neck ailment, was solid in net all night. He stopped 19 shots, his best save coming in the second period when he stuffed Dustin Boyd on a breakaway chance.

"We kept the pressure on and continued to build off that," Anderson said.

Colorado jumped out to a 2-0 lead midway through the second period on goals from Wolski and Chris Stewart. But Rene Bourque quickly trimmed the deficit, scoring his ninth goal of the season only 1:17 later.

Just before the end of the second period, though, Darcy Tucker rammed in a shot near the goal crease. The goal was originally credited to TJ Galiardi, but an overhead view showed the puck had already trickled into the net before Galiardi touched it.

It was Tucker's first goal since Oct. 21 at Minnesota. The forward missed eight games because of a concussion after he was ridden into the boards by Carolina's Tuomo Ruutu on Oct. 23.

Mark Giordano drew the Flames within a goal with 6:44 remaining. Calgary pulled Miikka Kiprusoff for an extra attacker with around a minute remaining, but couldn't tie it.

The Flames are now 1-2-1 in their past four games. Asked how he's going to treat practice before a contest Tuesday night in St. Louis, Sutter simply said it was up to his players.

"I guess it's how they want to approach it," Sutter said. "Do they want to come businessmen-like, where games mean something, where they're important?"

The Avalanche took advantage of a 5-on-3 opportunity midway through the first period, scoring on Wolski's shot through the legs of Kiprusoff.

It was a first period that featured plenty of hard checks, sprawling saves and fisticuffs.

David Koci and Brian McGrattan squared off not even two minutes into the game, dropping their gloves and landing several blows before being separated and sent to the penalty box.

Later, Iginla and Cody McLeod got into a brawl near the Calgary goal. They grabbed the other's jersey and fell down and were quickly separated.

That was pretty much how the night progressed. When it was over, the Avalanche were back in first.

"We work hard," Avalanche first-year coach Joe Sacco said. "We play with lots of energy and the guys believe in the locker -- that's the most important thing -- they believe that we can win a division. And that's our ultimate goal. There's still a long way to go, but there's no reason why we can't stay there."

Notes

  • There was a sparse crowd of 11,448 on hand for the game between two of the top teams in the Western Conference.
  • Former University of Minnesota star Ryan Stoa made his NHL debut a day after getting called up by the Avs from the Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL. He played more than nine minutes and had two shots on goal.
  • The Flames lost in regulation on the road for only the fourth time this season.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
Colorado celebrates its third goal after the puck eludes Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff.  (US Presswire)
Colorado celebrates its third goal after the puck eludes Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff. (US Presswire)

Scoreboard
Calgary (19-9-4)0112
Colorado  (19-10-6) «1203
Three Stars
C. Stewart
COL


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 1
W. Wolski
COL


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 1
C. Anderson
COL


Saves: 19
Save Pct.: .905
Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
13:05Power Play - Wojtek Wolski (13), Snap Shot. Assist: Stewart, Quincey
2ND PERIOD
09:17Chris Stewart (7), Wrist Shot. Assist: Stastny, Wolski
10:34Rene Bourque (9), Wrist Shot. Assist: Dawes
17:19Darcy Tucker (5), Tip-In. Assist: Galiardi, Wilson
3RD PERIOD
13:16Power Play - Mark Giordano (2), Wrist Shot. Assist: Langkow, Bourque
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
01:52McGrattan, 5 min, Fighting
01:52Koci, 5 min, Fighting
05:39Glencross, 2 min, Hooking
11:09Johnson, 2 min, Elbowing
12:20Glencross, 4 min, High-Sticking
17:08Kronwall, 2 min, Holding
17:08McLeod, 5 min, Fighting
17:08Iginla, 5 min, Fighting
2ND PERIOD
01:29Hendricks, 2 min, Holding the Stick
06:03Hannan, 2 min, Holding
15:15Bouwmeester, 2 min, Tripping
3RD PERIOD
02:33Hendricks, 2 min, High-Sticking
08:28Hannan, 2 min, Cross-Checking
11:39Tucker, 2 min, Hooking
Shots On Goal
 123T
Calgary68721
Colorado2013235
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGA
Miikka Kiprusoff58:56323
Craig Anderson59:57192
Game Information
Attendance - 11448
Referees - Dennis LaRue, Tom Kowal
Linesmen - Thor Nelson, Mark Wheler
 
Other Games
TB 0 Final
Chi 4