DENVER - The Colorado Avalanche just keep rolling along.
Despite getting involved in the kind of run-and-gun game that can give a coach grey hair, first-year Avs coach Joe Sacco was pleased with his team's resiliency Friday night in a wild 5-4 win over the Carolina Hurricanes at the Pepsi Center.
Playing at home for the first time since Oct. 3, the Avalanche overcame a poor start and the loss of forward Darcy Tucker, who suffered a concussion on a second-period hit by Carolina's Tuomo Ruutu in the second period.
"It was an exciting game," said Sacco, whose team is 5-0-2 in its past seven games and leads the Northwest Division with a 7-1-2 record. "If you were a fan, you got your money's worth tonight. There were lots of chances for both teams and we found a way to stick with it."
Paul Stastny, who didn't have a goal in the Avalanche's just-completed seven-game road trip, scored twice and added an assist. Milan Hejduk, Wojtek Wolski and rookie Ryan O'Reilly each contributed a goal and an assist, and goalie Craig Anderson made 32 saves.
Stastny scored what proved to be the game-winning goal at 6:21 of the third period, putting the Avalanche in front 5-3 during a 5-on-3 power play -- shortly after Anderson stopped Ray Whitney on a penalty shot.
"It kind of turns the tables pretty quickly when Andy comes up with a game-changing save," Sacco said. "Then we got the 5-on-3 and we cashed it in. We took advantage of that."
Whitney was awarded the penalty shot at 3:03 of the period after he was hauled to the ice by David Jones on a breakaway.
"I made the save and it boosted the morale of the team and kind of got me back in a groove a little bit," said Anderson, who was scheduled to get the night off but started for the 10th consecutive time because backup Peter Budaj has the flu.
"(Whitney) kind of came in and I just tried to take away the shot," Anderson said. "I tried to make him deke, to make him shoot, but I didn't know where he was. The next thing I knew he was sneaking in behind me and luckily I stopped him."
Whitney scored at 8:40 to draw the Hurricanes within 5-4, but the Avs hung on for their third home win in as many games.
"We got in trouble a couple times and Andy made some big saves," Stastny said. "He's been doing it all year for us."
Hejduk and Wolski scored goals 40 seconds apart in the second period to give the Avalanche a 4-2 lead before Matt Cullen cut the Hurricanes' deficit in half at 16:15 with a wraparound goal.
Hejduk scored on a power play at the 10-minute mark after Ruutu was assessed a major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct for his hit against Tucker, who was knocked out by the blow.
Tucker was immobilized on a stretcher board and taken by ambulance to the hospital for further evaluation. The Avalanche later reported that he suffered a concussion but had regained consciousness and was fully alert.
Sacco addressed the team at the bench following the hit.
"I just told the guys to stay focused," he said. "The biggest thing at that point was getting the two points. Just keep our focus, keep our cool and play the game."
The teams skated 4-on-4 for the next two minutes with defenseman Adam Foote serving a roughing minor for going after Ruutu.
Carolina coach Paul Maurice, who coached Tucker in Toronto, said Ruutu's hit also cost the Hurricanes.
''We missed him,'' Maurice said. ''There's no question. On the road, to lose a forward like that, we missed him.''
Hejduk's goal was the first on a power play for the Avalanche in four games, and Wolski added his team-leading fifth goal at 10:40 when he beat goalie Cam Ward with a one-timer from the slot off a pass from Chris Stewart, who had two assists.
The Avalanche erased a 2-0 deficit in the first period with goals from rookie O'Reilly and Stastny, who scored 31 seconds apart on consecutive shots.
"We were down and fought back," Sacco said. "It's a great two points, a great win."
O'Reilly took a pass from Wolski in the slot, moved to his left and swept the puck past Ward's stick at 16:16. Stastny skated across the slot and beat Ward with a backhander at 16:47.
The Hurricanes struck quickly against Anderson, with Joe Corvo and Ruutu scoring on consecutive shots 2:34 apart to grab their 2-0 lead. Corvo scored from the left point on a power play at 3:15 and Ruutu followed at 5:49 on a tip-in after Niclas Wallin took the original shot.
But the Hurricanes (2-5-2) couldn't hold the lead and are winless in five road games (0-4-1) this season. They'll try to avoid an 0-for-4 trip when they play at Minnesota on Saturday.
"It's pretty frustrating," defenseman Joni Pitkanen said. "When the other team gets goals, it looks like our confidence goes down."
--Rick Sadowski, NHL.com Correspondent
|PPG - Joe Corvo (1) ASST: Jussi Jokinen (4), Tuomo Ruutu (4)|
1 - 0 CAR
|Tuomo Ruutu (2) ASST: Niclas Wallin (2), Stephane Yelle (1)|
2 - 0 CAR
|Ryan O'Reilly (2) ASST: Wojtek Wolski (5), Chris Stewart (2)|
2 - 1 CAR
|Paul Stastny (2) ASST: Ryan Wilson (1)|
2 - 2 Tie
|PPG - Milan Hejduk (4) ASST: Paul Stastny (6), Matt Duchene (4)|
3 - 2 COL
|Wojtek Wolski (5) ASST: Chris Stewart (3), Ryan O'Reilly (7)|
4 - 2 COL
|Matt Cullen (3) ASST: Scott Walker (2), Rod Brind'Amour (3)|
4 - 3 COL
|PPG - Paul Stastny (3) ASST: Milan Hejduk (5), Matt Duchene (5)|
5 - 3 COL
|Ray Whitney (4) ASST: Chad LaRose (1), Eric Staal (1)|
5 - 4 COL
|Power Play %||18.8%||15.0%|
|% on Road||16.1%||17.4%|
|% at Home||21.6%||12.7%|
|Kyle Quincey Holding the stick against Stephane Yelle|
|Joni Pitkanen Holding against Paul Stastny|
|Tuomo Ruutu Boarding (maj) against Darcy Tucker|
|Adam Foote Roughing against Tuomo Ruutu|
|Tuomo Ruutu Game misconduct|
|Eric Staal Interference on goalkeeper against Craig Anderson|
|Ryan Wilson Holding against Scott Walker|
|Chad LaRose Holding against Matt Hendricks|
|Joni Pitkanen Hi-sticking against Brett Clark|
|Eric Staal Unsportsmanlike conduct against David Jones|
|Eric Staal Slashing against David Jones|
|Eric Staal Misconduct (10 min)|
|Eric Staal Game misconduct|
|Scott Hannan Cross checking against Ray Whitney|