For most people, their birthday is a time to kick back, relax and enjoy being on the receiving end of presents.
Instead, Chris Stewart was in a giving mood on his 23rd birthday Saturday night - as in, giving his team yet another goal en route to a 5-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Pepsi Center.
With the Avs holding a 1-0 lead, Stewart netted his ninth goal of the season at the 50-second mark of the middle frame while Colorado was on a 5-on-3 power play. Milan Hejduk
nearly had a goal himself leading up to Stewart’s tally, ringing a shot from the left circle off the crossbar. Paul Stastny
picked up the rebound and fed it over to Stewart, who buried the puck past Columbus goaltender Steve Mason.
The third-year forward later picked up an assist on Stastny’s second-period goal, giving him 14 points (8g/6a) during his eight-game point streak and 16 points (9g/7a) in 11 games overall. Stewart’s point streak matches a career best, as he also had an eight-game point streak last season from March 6-22.
Stewart also equaled an Avalanche record by scoring nine goals in the month of October. Joe Sakic had nine in October of 1997 and Peter Forsberg had nine in October of 2000 (both players finished their respective seasons with 27 goals).Budaj’s Strong Game
Colorado will no doubt hope to see many more performances like this from netminder Peter Budaj. With starting goaltender Craig Anderson out indefinitely with a knee injury suffered earlier this week, Budaj is expected to carry the majority of the workload until his counterpart returns to health.
Budaj stopped 33 shots tonight against Columbus, allowing only a Derick Brassard power-play goal in the third period. Two of his more impressive stops came on breakaway attempts by Rick Nash late in the second period and Brassard early in the third.
Budaj’s victory was the 89th of his career, tying David Aebischer for third place on the franchise’s all-time wins list. Only Patrick Roy (262) and Dan Bouchard (107) have more victories in an Avalanche uniform.Hejduk Sets RecordMilan Hejduk
got off to a slow start offensively, but has since put his foot on the gas pedal.
After totaling just one goal through the first five games of the 2010-11 campaign, the veteran forward came into tonight’s contest riding a five-game point streak (3g/6a).
It didn’t take long for Hejduk to extend his point streak. Just 4:14 into the game he settled down the rebound of a Scott Hannan point shot and fed it over to David Jones
, who beat Mason with a wrist shot.
Hejduk would later add another assist in the second period, giving him 11 points (3g/8a) during his six-game point streak.
The assists also marked a milestone for Hejduk, as he passed Sakic for the most career points at Pepsi Center with 346 (170g/176a) in 378 regular season games. Sakic recorded his 344 career points (119g/225a) at Pepsi Center in 297 contests. Hejduk’s 170 goals already constitute an arena record.A First For Liffiton
The Avs received some offense from a somewhat unexpected source tonight when defenseman David Liffiton
recorded his first NHL goal exactly halfway through the second period on a blast from just inside the blue line.
Having spent most of his professional career to this point in the American Hockey League, Liffiton has scored 12 goals in 229 career AHL games.
The defenseman, who made his Avalanche debut on Thursday in Calgary, was skating in just his fifth career NHL game. Originally Colorado’s first selection (second round, 63rd overall) in the 2003 Entry Draft, the defenseman was traded to the New York Rangers on March 8, 2004 and was then signed by the Avalanche as free agent on July 2, 2010.Notes
Following the game, the Avalanche reassigned forward Kevin Porter
to the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League…Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco missed today’s morning skate due to illness, but was on the bench during the game…David Jones
played in his 100th career game tonight and marked the occasion by scoring his fourth goal of the season…The Avalanche wore their blue third jerseys for the first time this season…Colorado will don its third sweater 12 times during the course of the 2010-11 season…Daniel Winnik picked up his first two assists as a member of the Avalanche after totaling four goals in his first 10 games.