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Avs Use Power Play, Shootout to Top Wild

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Avs Top Wild in Shootout, 2-1

The Avalanche will play its next three games against Northwest Division opponents. The club will depart on a three-game road swing Friday, which includes stops in Edmonton, Vancouver and Minnesota.

-Defenseman Adam Foote (head) was injured on a hit in the first period and did not return to the game.

-Colorado holds an 8-9 record versus Northwest Division opponents this season.

-After being whistled for holding the stick in the first period, defenseman Ruslan Salei eclipsed 1,000 career penalty minutes. The infraction, which put Salei at 1,001 PIM, led to a Marc-Andre Bergeron power-play tally.

-With his helper on John-Michael Liles’ goal in the second period, Paul Stastny now leads the team in power-play assists with 12.

-Cody McCormick recorded 11 penalty minutes, including five for fighting Wild defenseman John Scott, a four-minute double minor for high-sticking and two minutes for interference.

-The Avalanche held a 41-17 advantage in the shots department.

Post-Game Video:
Colorado topped the Minnesota Wild by a 2-1 score Wednesday night due in large part to the team’s shootout success. The Avs received goals from Wojtek Wolski and Milan Hejduk to improve their record to 9-1 in shootouts this season.

However, it was the club’s power-play unit that moved the game to extra time by breaking a three-game scoreless drought with the man advantage.

The Avalanche came into tonight’s game having gone 0-for-8 on the power play over its last three contests, but defenseman John-Michael Liles helped the club break into the scoring column.

Liles was credited with his fifth power-play tally of the season just 37 seconds into the middle frame after taking a drop pass from Paul Stastny and firing a shot past Minnesota goaltender Niklas Backstrom from the right point. The attempt caromed off the stick of a Wild forward before finding the back of the net.

The puck-moving defenseman has been a key component to the Avalanche’s power play throughout the season, ranking fifth on the team in goals, second in assists (11) and fourth in points (16) on the man advantage.

Colorado finished 1-of-4 on the power play tonight after going 2-for-32 over the past 10 games (6.3%).

Shaking It Up
Trying to create a spark after being shut out by the Atlanta Thrashers on Tuesday night, Avalanche head coach Tony Granato moved Marek Svatos to right wing on a line with Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk (who slid over to the left side).

In addition to taking a regular shift, the trio also spent some time together on the power play – a move that paid off on Liles’ goal, which was assisted by Stastny and Svatos.

Ryan Smyth, who has played much of the season at left wing opposite Hejduk, was centered by Wojtek Wolski, with Brian Willsie on the right.

The Avalanche’s other lines tonight included Ben Guite centering Darcy Tucker and Ian Laperriere, and T.J. Hensick playing the middle with Matt Hendricks (skating in his second NHL game) and Cody McCormick on the wings.

Out Tonight
The Avalanche’s healthy scratches tonight were Tyler Arnason, Lawrence Nycholat and Chris Stewart.

Stewart had played in all 42 games since being recalled from Lake Erie on Dec. 5. The Toronto native owns 17 points (10g/7a) on the season and is tied for third on the club with seven fighting majors.
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