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Avalanche/Blues Notebook

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
John-Michael Liles proved earlier this season that he has the whole assist thing down. Now, he’s starting to pick things up in the goal-scoring department.

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Liles didn’t record a goal through Colorado’s first 15 games, but did manage to register a team-leading 12 assists during that span. That included his well-documented nine-game assist streak to open the season, which set a new NHL record for the longest streak to begin a season by a defenseman.

The Indianapolis native finally struck pay dirt during Saturday’s loss at Detroit, as he netted the team’s lone goal after displaying an impressive amount of patience and luring Red Wings netminder Jimmy Howard out of position.

During Monday night’s victory over the St. Louis Blues, the blueliner was even more impressive. Liles scored a pair of goals and also added an assist during a three-point opening period.

After Alexander Steen staked the Blues to a 1-0 lead with a breakaway goal 54 seconds into the contest, Liles answered with his first of two tallies just over four minutes later. After a strong shift by the Avalanche deep in St. Louis’ defensive zone, Greg Mauldin’s took a shot from a tough angle to Jaroslav Halak’s left. The rebound of Mauldin’s attempt went to the far side, where Liles swooped in and chipped the puck past the Blues netminder at 5:05.

Liles struck again 7:50 later after Ryan O’Byrne’s shot missed the net and came hard off the end boards. Liles grabbed the rebound in the left circle and backpedaled toward the blue line before throwing a wrister on the net off his back foot that eluded Halak.

"I thought we battled hard and guys were doing great work down low, which was the biggest thing. That was pretty much the cause of my two goals and I think Pauly’s [Paul Stastny] goal," said Liles. " It was just hard work, hard forechecking, good cycling and I was able to sneak in and the rebound came right to me on the first one. The second one, I don’t know what I was doing. I was behind their net and came out and the puck just kind of bounced to me and I was just trying to put a shot through.”

The defenseman capped his big period with an assist on Paul Stastny’s seventh goal of the season at 14:57.

Liles is averaging nearly a point-per-game with 16 points (3g/13a) in 17 contests this season. His career-high for points in a season is 49 (14g/35a), set during the 2005-06 campaign.

Jones Receives Promotion
Forward David Jones spent tonight’s game on the Avalanche’s top line alongside Stastny and Chris Stewart, filling the spot that had been recently occupied by Kevin Porter.

The move paid dividends, as Jones notched his seventh goal of the season during the second period of tonight’s game. Just 17 seconds after Brandon Yip gave the Avalanche a 4-2 lead, Jones extended the advantage to three goals. Jones took a pass from Paul Stastny in the right circle, curled the puck close to his body and beat Halak with a wrister high to the glove side.

As for the other line combinations, Brandon Yip joined Matt Duchene and Milan Hejduk on the second line, while Porter took his shifts with Ryan O’Reilly and Daniel Winnik. The Avalanche’s other trio of Cody McLeod, Philippe Dupuis and Greg Mauldin stayed intact.

Foote Breaks Record
It was a record-breaking night for captain Adam Foote. The veteran defenseman picked up an assist on Jones’ goal late in the second period, giving him a franchise record 254 career points in an Avalanche/Nordiques jersey. Foote, who returned from a head injury on Saturday against Detroit, broke a tie with Sandis Ozolinsh for the franchise mark. He also owns the record for the most assists by a defenseman in franchise history with 198.

Foote was honored for his milestone with an announcement during a break in the action at the first TV timeout of the third period.

Holos Scratched, Koci Healthy
Ryan Wilson made his return to the Avalanche’s lineup tonight after missing five consecutive games due to a leg injury, which made Norwegian defenseman Jonas Holos the odd man out on the Avalanche’s blue line.

After being a healthy scratch for the first four games of the season, Holos had suited up in the Avalanche’s last 12 contests before being a healthy scratch against the Blues.

The Avalanche’s other healthy scratch was forward David Koci, who was activated off the injured reserve list earlier in the day. Koci sustained a jaw injury during a preseason fight and has been sidelined ever since.
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