for this game

Rookies Wolski, Stastny keep Avalanche rolling

Mar 8, 2007 - 4:44 AM
BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) -- Rookies Paul Stastny and Wojtek Wolski are not allowing the Colorado Avalanche to give up on the postseason.

Stastny extended his points streak to 17 games with a pair of assists and fellow 21-year-old Wolski snapped a tie early in the third period, leading the Avalanche to their season-high fifth straight win, a 3-2 triumph over the Eastern Conference-leading Buffalo Sabres.

Milan Hejduk added a goal and an assist for Colorado (34-29-5), which climbed within six points of idle Minnesota (36-24-7) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Wild have one game in hand.

"It's always more fun in the locker room when you're winning," Stastny said. "If we can keep this up, good things will happen for all of us."

"We said it for a while - we've got to win an awful lot of hockey games and make our push," added Colorado captain Joe Sakic, whose team has not missed the playoffs since 1993-94, when the club played in Quebec. "Guys are really playing well on both ends."

The reigning NHL Rookie of the Month, Stastny set up Hejduk's tally midway through the first period to stretch his streak to 17 contests, tying the league record for a first-year player. In 1992-93, Teemu Selanne also recorded a point in 17 consecutive games while with the Winnipeg Jets en route to the Calder Trophy.

"I didn't know how hard or how easy it'd come at times," said Stastny, who owns the longest points streak in the NHL this season. "I know it's full of ups and downs. That's how it's been this year. You have to have a lot of chances. It's better to have lots of chances, get forced to the net and get no chances and be lucky."

With the assist, Stastny also eclipsed the franchise record for the longest points streak by a rookie set in 1980-81 by his Hall of Fame father, Peter.

Stastny picked up his second assist on Brett McLean's goal 12 seconds into the middle session, which gave the Avalanche a 2-1 edge.

Jason Pominville drew Buffalo even later in the period, but Wolski scored his 20th of the season 1:41 into the third to put Colorado ahead for good. Sakic chased down a loose puck in the bottom of the left faceoff circle and threw it in front, where it was tipped past goaltender Ryan Miller by Wolski.

"I just tried to go to the net, Joe put a shot on net and I was lucky to tip it in," Wolski said. "(Playing with Sakic) is an experience. He's a Hall of Famer, for sure. ... See what he does and just learn from him."

The assist by Sakic was the 965th of his career, moving him past Doug Gilmour for 11th place on the all-time list.

Peter Budaj made 19 saves for the Avalanche, who improved to 4-0-0 on their season-high five-game road trip.

"We keep getting some big efforts from Paul's line, but it's across the board," Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said. "I think everyone has contributed to each and every win. We take it one game at a time, but the guys have a lot of energy."

Nathan Paetsch also tallied for Buffalo (44-17-5), which had won three games in a row and nine of 11. The Sabres, who suffered their first home loss in regulation since January 13, had not played since Saturday.

"There's really no excuse for us," Paetsch said. "We just didn't play our best game tonight. We've got to be able to come off layoffs like that."

"I was disappointed with parts of our game," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "We knew we were going to be in for a pretty tough affair, but we made some uncharacteristic mistakes. I think all of our goals (allowed) were mistakes."

There was some good news for the Sabres as they got back co-captain Chris Drury, who had missed the last four games with a concussion. Drury played just over 18 1/2 minutes, recording three shots on goal and finishing with a minus-1 rating.

"I felt pretty good, got the cobwebs out the first couple shifts," he said. "After that, I felt pretty good. Our line played all right."

After scoring his first career goal in Saturday's win at Toronto, Paetsch doubled his total two minutes into this one, firing a wrist shot from the left point that hit a defender on its way to the net and found its way past Budaj.

Hejduk forged a 1-1 tie at 9:58, converting Stastny's pass from in front while shorthanded for his third goal in as many games. The tally also extended Hejduk's points streak to seven contests.

"I think everybody defensively is doing a lot better job right now, and obviously when you have Stastny and Hejduk playing the way they are right now, they're carrying us," Sakic said.

McLean put Colorado in front moments after the opening faceoff of the second period. After Miller left the puck behind his own net, Hejduk grabbed it and passed in front to McLean for his his career-high 12th goal. The 28-year-old netted 11 tallies in 2003-04 while with Chicago.

"They made some pretty nice plays out there," Pominville said. "They still have guys with skill and definitely make you pay if you leave them time."

Pominville made it 2-2 with 7:17 to go in the session, when co-captain Daniel Briere's pass from low in the left circle caromed off his right skate and past Budaj. The goal was the third in five games for Pominville, who has recorded a point in eight straight.








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    COLORADO 1 1 1 3
    BUFFALO 1 1 0 2 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: BUF - NATHAN PAETSCH 2 (BRIAN CAMPBELL, ADAM MAIR) 2:00
    COL - (SH) MILAN HEJDUK 27 (PAUL STASTNY, KURT SAUER) 9:58
    2ND PRD: COL - BRETT MCLEAN 12 (MILAN HEJDUK, PAUL STASTNY) 0:12
    BUF - JASON POMINVILLE 27 (DANIEL BRI

    Mar 7 9:24 PM


  • NHL
    COLORADO 3
    BUFFALO 2
    3RD PRD: COL - JOE SAKIC 28 (ANDREW BRUNETTE, OSSI VAANANEN) 1:11

    Avalanche vs. SabresMar 7 8:56 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    COLORADO 1 1 2
    BUFFALO 1 1 2 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: BUF - NATHAN PAETSCH 2 (BRIAN CAMPBELL, ADAM MAIR) 2:00
    COL - (SH) MILAN HEJDUK 27 (PAUL STASTNY, KURT SAUER) 9:58
    2ND PRD: COL - BRETT MCLEAN 12 (MILAN HEJDUK, PAUL STASTNY) 0:12
    BUF - JASON POMINVILLE 2

    Mar 7 8:34 PM


  • NHL
    COLORADO 2
    BUFFALO 2
    2ND PRD: BUF - JASON POMINVILLE 27 (DANIEL BRIERE, JOCHEN HECHT) 12:43

    Avalanche vs. SabresMar 7 8:23 PM


  • NHL
    COLORADO 2
    BUFFALO 1
    2ND PRD: COL - BRETT MCLEAN 12 (MILAN HEJDUK, PAUL STASTNY) 0:12

    Avalanche vs. SabresMar 7 8:00 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    COLORADO 1 1
    BUFFALO 1 1 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: BUF - NATHAN PAETSCH 2 (BRIAN CAMPBELL, ADAM MAIR) 2:00
    COL - (SH) MILAN HEJDUK 27 (PAUL STASTNY, KURT SAUER) 9:58
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    COL 5 5

    Mar 7 7:41 PM


  • NHL
    COLORADO 1
    BUFFALO 1
    1ST PRD: COL - (SH) MILAN HEJDUK 27 (PAUL STASTNY) 9:58

    Avalanche vs. SabresMar 7 7:27 PM


  • NHL
    COLORADO 0
    BUFFALO 1
    1ST PRD: BUF - NATHAN PAETSCH 2 (BRIAN CAMPBELL, ADAM MAIR) 2:00

    Avalanche vs. SabresMar 7 7:13 PM