Forsberg returned to the Avs' lineup for the first time in three years when he stepped on the ice at Nationwide Arena. But Rick Nash scored and then assisted on Derick Brassard's go-ahead goal in the Columbus Blue Jackets' 3-1 win against Colorado, the Avs' sixth loss in a row.
"Too bad we lost," Forsberg said. "It felt like it's the first time I've played in about 11 months, so it was pretty hard. I thought we had a couple chances, but overall it was so-so, actually. I could have played better, but hopefully it gets better one game at a time."
Forsberg played 22 shifts totaling 17:38 minutes and had one shot on goal.
"You know what? He actually played better than I expected him to," Colorado coach Joe Sacco said. "He was arguably our best player tonight."
Since Forsberg was minus-2, that doesn't say much for the rest of the weary Avs, who are three games into a four-game road trip.
Nash all but took over the game with two huge plays in the second period, helping the Jackets snap a six-game losing streak against Colorado.
With the Blue Jackets trailing 1-0 early in the second period, he took a nifty cross-ice pass from Jakub Voracek and scored his 25th of the season at 7:19, beating Peter Budaj from the lower left circle.
Nash set up the go-ahead goal when he forced defenseman John-Michael Liles into a turnover behind the net and centered the puck to Brassard, who skated laterally while waiting for Budaj to slide out of position. He then wristed a shot past the goalie for his 14th of the season.
"It's huge when your centerman drives the net and takes the defense with him," Nash said. "He makes the goalie commit to him, too. It was a great play by Brassard."
Mathieu Garon, making his first start since Jan. 18, made 31 saves to win for the first time since Dec. 21 against Calgary.
"We played really well," Garon said. "We were disciplined. I think we only had one penalty kill which was huge for us. In the second and third period, we had control of the game. They had shots but we had guys there to clear the rebounds."
Derek MacKenzie added an empty-netter for the Blue Jackets, winners of four of five.
"In the second period our forwards started to get going, we got after their defense, started to create turnovers and obviously got some big goals," Columbus coach Scott Arniel said. "That was a good, physical, hard game for 60 minutes."
Former Columbus draft pick Philippe Dupuis scored the lone goal for the Avalanche, who have been outscored 21-7 during their losing streak.
"I think its fair to say that everybody has to pick their game up right now I thought we started the game great," Sacco said. "I thought it was a real good first period. We had good energy, we came out, we were out chancing them and we were playing our game. The team that we are, you make a couple of mistakes and it seems like here we go again. You just have to get past that, keep working and stay positive."
The bright spot was unquestionably Forsberg.
The 37-year-old former Hart Trophy winner had foot problems when he stepped away from Colorado after the 2007-08 season. After recovering, he played last season in his native Sweden before returning to the Avalanche on Jan. 22. He signed a contract on Sunday and had to iron out some immigration problems before hitting the ice against Columbus.
"He looks good. I think he feels good," linemate Milan Hejduk said, adding that he feels Forsberg will be able to play at a high level for the rest of the season. "There's no reason to think otherwise."
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