In an effort to shake things up following two consecutive losses, Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco juggled his lines a bit at the beginning of Saturday’s contest against the Minnesota Wild.
On the Avalanche’s top two scoring lines, Matt Duchene
started the game centering David Jones
and Chris Stewart, while Paul Stastny
skated between Milan Hejduk
and Daniel Winnik.
The moves seemed to pay immediate dividends, as Stastny staked Colorado to a 1-0 lead just 1:01 into the game on his ninth goal of the season. It was exactly the type of start the Avalanche was hoping for after being victimized by early goals on a handful of occasions lately – most recently when Gilbert Brule struck 1:40 into the opening frame during Thursday’s 3-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.
Winnik, Stewart Hurt
The new line combinations didn’t last long, however, as Winnik was injured 4:30 into the contest on his second shift of the evening. After taking a hard John-Michael Liles slap shot off the leg, Winnik hobbled off the ice and into the Colorado dressing room. The injury, which turned out to be a leg contusion, kept the forward sidelined for the remainder of the game.
The Avalanche suffered more bad news in the injury department later in the contest when Chris Stewart was knocked out of the game with a hand injury. Stewart dropped the gloves with Kyle Brodziak at 17:06 of the second period and easily won the battle, but fractured his hand in the process.Second Period The Key
The key to Colorado’s win on Saturday was simple: a four-goal explosion within a 6:44 span during the middle frame.
With the Avalanche trailing 2-1 after one period of play, Greg Mauldin
evened the contest 2:45 into the middle frame with his second goal of the season. After a lull of 4:33, Hejduk gave the Avs the lead when he buried a nice centering feed from Stewart on a power play. The Pepsi Center faithful had barely finished celebrating Hejduk’s tally when Mauldin struck again 32 seconds later by scoring on the rebound of a Ryan Wilson
shot from the left side boards that missed the net and came around to the far side.
The scoring spree came to an end at 9:29, when Kevin Shattenkirk’s wrister from the right circle eluded Minnesota goaltender Niklas Backstrom.
The goals scored by Hejduk and Mauldin 32 seconds apart were an impressive feat, but it wasn’t even a season-best for Colorado. Back on Nov. 15 vs. St. Louis, Brandon Yip and David Jones
scored just 17 seconds apart to mark the fastest two goals by Avalanche teammates since Oct. 22, 2006.
The last time Colorado scored four goals as quickly was on March 26, 2008 against the Vancouver Canucks, when the club tallied four times in 6:37.
The second period has been Colorado’s strongest all season. Of the Avs’ 81 goals this season, they’ve scored 20 in the first period, 31 in the middle frame, 28 in the third period and two in overtime.Holos Recalled
With the Avalanche down to six healthy defensemen, the club recalled Jonas Holos
from the Lake Erie Monsters on Saturday. Holos was available for tonight’s game, but Sacco elected to suit up the same six defensemen he went with during Thursday’s game in Edmonton.
Holos began the season with the Avalanche but was reassigned to Lake Erie on Nov. 21. The Norway native appeared in three AHL games during his reassignment, posting an assist, five shots on goal and an even plus/minus rating.
“All reports were that he was playing very well,” said Sacco. “We ask for their best defenseman when we call a player up, so he was their best D.”
The head coach also noted that defenseman Adam Foote (leg) and goaltender Craig Anderson (groin) have been making progress since suffering their injuries in Wednesday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks. Foote is listed as out indefinitely, while Anderson was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Nov. 24 – meaning he will be available for the first game of Colorado’s road trip during the first weekend in December.