DENVER – In a game with significant playoff implications that lived up to its billing, the Colorado Avalanche pulled out a 2-1 overtime victory over the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night at the Pepsi Center.
When David Jones knocked in the rebound of Paul Stastny's shot from the left side of the net with 1:09 remaining in the extra period, the Avalanche broke a nine-game losing streak against the Flames and vaulted over the Phoenix Coyotes into seventh place in the tightly-bunched Western Conference.
The Avalanche are on a 5-0-1 roll and have 85 points with seven regular-season games remaining, including Thursday's visit to Phoenix. The Coyotes have 84 points with eight games left.
"We owed them that for sure," Jones said of ending the Avalanche's futility streak against the Flames. "They've played us hard all year. It's only fitting with such a tight race, I guess, with all of us coming down the stretch. It's a huge win. Every game is so important. It's a lot of fun to play right now."
"I just tried to throw it off his back or whatever," Jones said of the winning goal. "I got a nice bounce. I wasn't getting too many (chances) tonight, so it was nice to get that one."
Jones flipped the puck over Kiprusoff's right leg a few minutes after he and Flames defenseman Corey Sarich were involved in a violent collision while Jones was trying to corral a long outlet pass. Sarich got the worst of it and was wobbly while being escorted off the ice.
"I didn't even see him," Jones said. "We just kind of collided and I hope he's OK. It was just one of those things. I was just watching where the puck was. I was definitely hurting a little bit."
But not as much as the Flames, who picked up a point but remain in 11th place with 82 points and with eight games to play.
"We knew the importance of the game," said Flames captain Jarome Iginla, who was stopped twice on breakaways. "It was a good game. Kipper is playing great. We have had one goal (in each of the past three games) and you are not going to win many of those. We had good chances tonight, but they are just not going in."
Sacco was pleased with the win but angry about the fact the Flames had the only three power plays in the game, even though Avalanche Ryan O'Reilly suffered a facial cut when he was high-sticked by defenseman Mark Giordano while getting off a shot in the slot with 3:30 to play in the third period.
O'Reilly fell to the ice and left a trail of blood at the edge of the crease, which was scraped away during a television timeout.
Giordano nearly won the game in the final seconds of regulation when he fired a shot from the right point that Varlamov stopped while sitting in the crease.
"I was scared a little bit at that moment," Varlamov said. "Thank God I saved it and we went to overtime."
The Avalanche has the fewest power plays in the NHL (204) and Tuesday's game marked the sixth time that it went without a single man advantage. Colorado had one such game in the previous 10 seasons combined.
"It's baffling to me right now," Sacco said. "I hate to sound like I'm complaining because that's not what we're about, but at the end of the day enough is enough. I mean, there's a blatant high stick on Ryan O'Reilly, it's a scoring opportunity and four guys on the ice miss it. Four guys, four officials miss it; I don't know how you miss that call.
"That would have been a four-minute power play and we may have been able to end the game in regulation. It's baffling to me. But it's a huge win for our team. We get the extra point against these guys who are right behind us."
It didn't take long for the Flames to open the scoring. Matt Stajan, who has scored five of his eight goals in the past eight games, moved into the slot and shot the puck between Varlamov's pads 1:47 into the game.
The Avalanche tied it at 9:05 on a goal by Stastny. Jones was in the corner when he passed to defenseman Shane O'Brien for a shot from the left point. Stastny, with his back to the net, tipped the puck between Kiprusoff’s pads.
"I think we are a different team than when we played them earlier in the year," Stastny said. "I think we have found our niche. It was a battle and we knew it was going to be a battle."
The Avalanche outshot the Flames 4-0 in overtime, and both goalies finished with 31 saves.
"My job is to stop pucks," said Varlamov, who has allowed 10 goals during a personal five-game winning streak. "It's a huge win for us, a huge two points, and we have to keep going and continuing to work. That's what we have to do the rest of the season if we are going to get a playoff spot. It's not going to be easy."
The Avalanche played without defenseman Erik Johnson, who came up with a bad back after the morning skate. He was replaced in the lineup by rookie Tyson Barrie.
1 - 0 CGY
1 - 1 Tie