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Stastny delivers more home cooking for Avs

Monday, 11.12.2007 / 12:12 AM / Game of the Night

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Paul Stastny scored twice and added an assist as the Colorado Avalanche improved to an impressive 9-1-0 at home with a 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild.
It’s a good thing for the rest of the teams in the Northwest Division that the Colorado Avalanche have to play 41 games on the road.
   
Paul Stastny scored twice and added an assist, Ryan Smyth had a goal and an assist and Peter Budaj made 25 saves as the Avalanche improved to 9-1-0 at the Pepsi Center with a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Sunday night.
 
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Colorado, which boasts the best home record in the Western Conference, improved to 7-1-1 in its last nine games. Stastny’s three-point night gave the super sophomore 100 in just 99 career games. The line of Stastny, Wojtek Wolski and Milan Hejduk was solid all night long, as Wolski chipped in with an assist and an empty-net tally.
   
“He’s young, but he’s very poised,” Smyth said of Stastny. “He’s very confident and seeing the right holes. He makes the simple plays. Obviously, Wolski and Hejduk, they work well off each other. It’s a good line.”
   
Once again, the Wild (9-5-2) were forced to play without top guns Pavol Demitra and Marian Gaborik due to groin injuries, but Minnesota headed into the second intermission only trailing 3-2 thanks to Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s fifth goal of the season, which came with only six seconds remaining in the middle frame.
   
“They’re both really good players, but they have a strong team without them,” Budaj said. “They have some very good ‘D’. I think they’re a really good squad. Even without Demitra and Gaborik, I think it’s a really big win for us.”
   
It couldn’t have been notched without Stastny, who now has 20 points on home ice this season. Both of his goals came in the second period, with the first one coming at the 5:59 mark. After Smyth scored the game’s opening goal with 4:12 to play in the first period, Stastny gave Colorado a 2-0 lead early in the second on a power play tally.
   
But the gritty Wild cut the deficit in half at the 10:08 mark of the second on a power play goal by Eric Belanger, as Budaj lost sight of a deflection in mid-air. Belanger was there to knock it in to make it 2-1.
   
''I don't know why goalies never look up when the puck is in the air,'' Budaj said. ''I tried to get back in net, the puck went off my shoulder as I went down and into the net. It was an unlucky break.''
   
Stastny regained Colorado’s two-goal lead at the 14:57 mark of the second, as he patiently waited for a clear lane to shoot before he fired a wrist shot past Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom, who made 22 saves despite playing with a strained groin.
   
As for reaching the 100-point milestone in such quick fashion, Stastny is more interested with helping the Avalanche record victories.
   
''I'll look back maybe down the road,'' Stastny said. ''I'm just excited right now that the team won and we're playing well. I feel good out there.''
   
Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire is hoping his team continues to fight through the adversity it’s currently facing. The Wild were also forced to play without forward Stephane Veilleux, who suffered a broken cheekbone in practice on Saturday.
   
''We have to play better than we did tonight if we want to win -- with our injured players or without them,'' Lemaire said. ''We have to play well with the players that we had.''
     
As for the Avalanche, their fans can expect to see Stastny and Wolski on the same line more often. Colorado coach Joel Quenneville was certainly pleased with the way the duo performed on Sunday.
   
“I think they’re both going through the same experience,” Quenneville said of Stastny and Wolski, who are both in their second NHL season. “I think they’ve helped each other along through the process. They haven’t played a lot together, but it seems like they work well with one another.”

Blackhawks 3, Red Wings 2 | Video
   
Leave it to Chicago to snap Detroit’s nine-game winning streak.
   
In front of a packed crowd at the United Center, the Blackhawks knocked off the Red Wings for the third time this season behind a goal and assist from Patrick Kane and a 30-save effort from Nikolai Khabibulin.
   
It was an important win for Chicago, which will play its next six games on the road, beginning with Wednesday night’s tilt at Columbus. Blackhawks coach Denis Savard is hoping the fans will return on Nov. 28, when Chicago plays its next home game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
   
Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 30 shots as the Chicago Blackhawks snapped the Red Wings' nine-game winning streak, edging Detroit 3-2 on Sunday night. 
“Going on a road trip for six games, I think we gave our fans a good taste to come back and see us when we get back,” Savard said. “First and foremost, I think our confidence level is going to continue to grow here. You can see it. Right now, our group’s confident. They’ve got to stay respectful, because it’s not what you did for me yesterday, it’s what you do for me tomorrow.”
   
Jonathan Toews scored what proved to be the game-winning goal with 1:35 remaining in the second period. With his team on a power play, the 19-year-old rookie fired a gorgeous wrist shot past Chris Osgood – who suffered his first loss of the season – for his seventh goal of the campaign.
   
“I guess it’s just an instinct for me to shoot there,” Toews said. “When you shoot the puck, it’s bound to go in, and I had a few good chances tonight. It’s just nice to put one away once in a while.”
   
Of course, the Red Wings (13-3-1) didn’t go down without a fight, as they cut a 2-0 deficit in half on Jiri Hudler’s fifth goal of the season at the 16:10 mark of the second period. Henrik Zetterberg picked up an assist on the tally to extend his points streak to 17 games.
   
“It’s tough to match up against them,” Savard said. “They’re the best team in the League. They’ve got some great players. They’re not going to go through too many losses in a row.”
   
After Toews quickly regained Chicago’s two-goal lead, Nicklas Lidstrom got the Red Wings back within a goal with 6:15 to play in regulation on a shot from the point.
   
The Blackhawks, however, were able to hold off a Detroit squad that was in search of what would have been a franchise-record 10 consecutive victories. The win was Chicago’s third straight.
   
“I think it just shows how competitive we are,” Toews said. “Tonight, we wanted to do it for our fans, we wanted to do it for this city and, most of all, for each other in the locker room. I think we showed a lot of character. Holding off a team like this, it’s tough to play with a lead and they put a lot of pressure on you. We played well – every guy in that locker room. We’ve got to be proud of that and keep moving forward.”
   
Yanic Perreault gave the Blackhawks (10-7-0) a 1-0 lead at the 12:28 mark of the opening period, when he took a pass from Robert Lang (two assists) and fired a shot from the slot past Osgood for his third goal of the season.
   
Kane – the NHL’s top rookie scorer – put Chicago up by a pair less than three minutes later on a two-man advantage. The 18-year-old one-timed a feed across the crease by Lang from the right side of the net past Osgood for his seventh goal of the season.
   
“We’ve been taking pride in special teams this year,” Kane said. “It seems to pay off. Our power play’s getting better every day, and our penalty kill continues to do its job.”
   
Meanwhile, Detroit coach Mike Babcock said he’s planning to give his team a day off today. The Red Wings return to action on Tuesday night at St. Louis.
   
''We've been on a good stretch and it's hard to win every night in this League,'' Babcock said.

''Sometimes a loss is a good reminder to get you back on track. I don't think we had any spunk. They were outracing us to pucks in one-on-one battles.''

Material from wire services was used in this report.
Quote of the Day

It's pretty crazy, but believe me when I say we didn't draft these players with the mindset we had to because they had good hockey-playing dads. It just turned out that way. But we're certainly glad they're a part of our organization.

— Arizona Coyotes director of amateur scouting Tim Bernhardt regarding the coincidence that six of the organization's top prospects are sons of former NHL players