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Cumiskey Provides Heroics In Avalanche Win

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Nine seconds.

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That’s how long it took Kyle Cumiskey to score the biggest goal of his career to date. With the Colorado Avalanche and Atlanta Thrashers beginning overtime tied at 3-3, Paul Stastny won the opening faceoff back to Cumiskey.

The blueliner skated up-ice, weaving through all four Atlanta defenders before making a quick move to beat Thrashers goaltender Johan Hedberg and give Colorado a 4-3 victory.

It was the first game-winning goal of Cumiskey’s career and set a new franchise record for the faster overtime goal, beating the previous mark of 19 seconds shared by Sandis Ozolinsh (March 9, 1999 at Washington) and Milan Hejduk (March 18, 2007 vs. San Jose).

“I saw an opening so I jumped in there and it worked out,” said Cumiskey. “I don’t know what came over me; I just took what they gave me pretty much and it worked out.”

Colorado may have been fortunate to send the game to overtime, as the Avs trailed the Thrashers, 3-1, near the midway mark of the third period. At that point, the Avalanche really turned things on.

Chris Stewart scored his team-leading 19th goal of the season after taking a feed from Paul Stastny, bulldozing toward the net and eventually knocking in his own rebound with 11:26 left in regulation.

Chris Durno tied the game at 14:31 of the third after diving to the ice, reaching out and slipping the rebound of a Cody McLeod tip past Hedberg to set up Cumiskey’s heroics.

“We’re feeling great right now,” said Durno. “That was a big win being down 3-1 late in the third. We have a pretty persistent group here and it showed again tonight.”

O’Reilly Returns

Ryan O’Reilly’s first NHL injury didn’t keep him shelved long, as the rookie was back in the lineup tonight after missing Monday’s contest against St. Louis with a foot ailment.

Following Wednesday’s morning skate, O’Reilly said he thought he would be “good to go,” while Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco told the media it would be a game-time decision.

When the puck dropped, O’Reilly settled into his usual role as the team’s third-line center, playing on a line with McLeod and Marek Svatos.

As expected, Wojtek Wolski was also in the lineup tonight. He suffered a minor injury while blocking a shot against St. Louis and didn’t practice on Tuesday.

Haydar Debuts
Recalled from the Lake Erie Monsters yesterday, forward Darren Haydar made his Avalanche debut tonight. The 30-year-old winger had appeared in 22 NHL games before tonight, two with Nashville during the 2003-04 season and 20 with the Thrashers in the 2006-07 and 2007-08 campaigns.

One of the most accomplished players in the history of the American Hockey League, Haydar is the league’s all-time playoff leader in goals (59), assists (76) and points (135). The 2003 AHL Rookie of the Year and the 2007 AHL MVP, Haydar has totaled 579 points (219g/360a) in 537 American Hockey League contests.

Haydar saw 5:22 of ice time tonight while playing on a line with Durno and Darcy Tucker.

With Haydar inserted into the lineup, forward Justin Mercier was a healthy scratch, along with blueliners John-Michael Liles and Ruslan Salei.

Anderson debuted a new mask design on Wednesday night
Anderson Very Active
Craig Anderson was assessed a two-minute minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct (diving) during the second period. He is currently tied with NY Islanders netminder Dwayne Roloson for the NHL lead in penalty minutes by a goaltender (12).

Anderson is also tied for the league lead in another category – assists by a goaltender. The Avalanche netminder has three helpers this season, matching the assist total of Edmonton’s Jeff Deslauriers, Dallas’ Marty Turco and Carolina’s Cam Ward.

The victory tonight was the 30th of the season for Anderson, making him just the fourth goaltender in franchise history to reach the 30-win plateau.

Anderson also debuted a new mask tonight, which contains some slight changes from the previous version.
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