Colorado pulled into a tie with Vancouver atop the division Saturday night with a 5-1 rout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Backup goalie Phil Sauve stopped 35 shots and Joe Sakic had a goal and three assists as the Avs pushed their unbeaten streak to 3-0-2.
The Avalanche were able to grab a share of first when the slumping Canucks managed only a 1-1 tie with Minnesota on Saturday.
The play of Sauve was the highlight for the Avalanche, who are hoping their backup to David Aebischer continues to emerge and give them two solid presences in net.
"Sometimes you are not going to see him for a while," Avalanche coach Tony Granato said of Sauve, who has played just twice since his first NHL win on Nov. 6. "When David is going well the way he has been, you might not see Phil but once every three weeks. That is tough to do. Obviously, he adjusted to that role and he played extremely well."
Aebischer, 8-1-2 in his past 11 games, is likely to return to the net Monday.
Sakic scored his ninth goal and has 11 points in six games, and Derek Morris added a goal and two assists for the Avs.
Colorado, though, continued to suffer from the injury bug, as star winger Milan Hejduk left in the second period with a slight groin pull and didn't return. His status for Monday's contest is uncertain.
The Avalanche did get back defenseman Adam Foote after he missed one game with the flu.
After facing the Capitals in Denver, the Avs play five of their next six games on the road, where they are 7-2-1-1 this season.
The Capitals lost their second in a row Saturday in demoralizing fashion, 7-3 to Los Angeles. Ziggy Palffy and Michael Cammalleri each scored two goals as the Kings chased Olaf Kolzig with almost eight minutes remaining after building a 6-3 lead.
"We had a 2-0 lead on the road, and I think we should protect it better," Bondra said. "We made some mistakes. When you don't have the confidence in the way you're playing, you don't believe in yourself."
The Capitals are completing a five-game road trip.