COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - In a typical season, Marek Svatos might be running away with the rookie of the year award.
Instead, he may be run over by a hyped bunch of first-year stars.
Svatos recorded his ninth game-winning goal this season to extend his NHL lead. He also tied the league mark for game-winning goals by a rookie, matching Chicago's Steve Larmer in 1982-83.
"It's always a nice feeling to tie or get a record," he said.
Svatos, a 23-year-old right wing who will play for Slovakia in the Olympics, had not scored in his previous five games.
"Finally, tonight I got my feeling back," he said with a grin.
In a year in which rookie sensations such as Washington's Alexander Ovechkin, Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, Calgary's Dion Phaneuf and New York Rangers Henrik Lundqvist are dominating, Svatos might not even finish in the top three in the voting.
That's OK with Svatos and the Avalanche. He just continues to help the team win.
"We've seen that a lot this year," Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville. "He's been very effective for us this year, even when he didn't score."
With the score tied 1-1 and the Avalanche on the power play, Svatos took a quick centering pass from behind the goal from Brett McLean beat goalie Marc Denis at the 1:08 mark.
Joe Sakic then dug the puck off the wall and sent an ideal setup pass to Svatos in the high slot that he converted for his 32nd goal of the year at 3:58.
Antti Laaksonen scored the fastest first goal ever for the Avalanche and Brad Richardson had an empty-netter as Colorado improved to 17-0-1-1 against the Blue Jackets.
The game pitted two of the hottest teams in the NHL. The Avalanche are 13-3-3 in their last 19 games and the Blue Jackets had won their last five home games and six of seven overall.
Jan Hrdina had the only Columbus score.
A mistake by Denis led to the Avalanche's opening goal. After the puck was dropped to start the game, it was dumped behind the Blue Jackets goal. Denis left the crease to join defenseman Adam Foote behind the goal, but neither was able to handle the puck. Laaksonen swooped in, stole it and scored into an empty net on a wraparound just 8 seconds in.
"I just tried to get to the net and put it in," Laaksonen said. "It was a fast goal. It was a fun way to start the game."
It was the Colorado franchise's fastest goal to start a game, eclipsing by a second goals scored by Randy Moller in 1988, when the team was in Quebec, and Sakic in 2001. Laaksonen's 13th goal matched the quickest ever surrendered by the Blue Jackets.
"We gave one away tonight," Columbus coach Gerard Gallant said.
Midway through the period, Columbus tied it on David Vyborny's nifty 2-on-1 pass resulting in Hrdina's eighth goal. Vyborny, who has three goals and 10 assists in his last eight games, waited patiently while carrying the puck from center ice before delivering it to Hrdina for the goal.
Notes: There were no penalties until 2.6 seconds remained in the second period. ... Columbus D Bryan Berard will not return until after the Olympic break because of back spasms. ... The Avalanche are now 3-5-0 in the second game of back-to-backs this season. ... Colorado D Rob Blake strained a groin muscle and did not play in the third period. ... The teams' Olympians were introduced before and during the game. Columbus has four players headed for Turin, the Avalanche have nine.
|Antti Laaksonen (13) ASST: NONE|
1 - 0 COL
|Jan Hrdina (8) ASST: David Vyborny (28), Jaroslav Balastik (6)|
1 - 1 Tie
|PPG - Marek Svatos (31) ASST: Brett McLean (22), Andrew Brunette (26)|
2 - 1 COL
|Marek Svatos (32) ASST: Joe Sakic (34)|
3 - 1 COL
|PPG - EN - Brad Richardson (3) ASST: Alex Tanguay (42), Patrice Brisebois (19)|
4 - 1 COL
|Duvie Westcott Hooking|
|Robert Boughner Holding against Luke Richardson|
|Milan Hejduk Hooking against Nikolay Zherdev|
|Trevor Letowski Holding against Joe Sakic|
|Trevor Letowski Unsportsmanlike conduct|