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The moment Avalanche fans have been anxiously awaiting arrived Tuesday night at Pepsi Center.
Peter Forsberg, clad in his familiar No. 21 sweater, stepped onto the ice 28 seconds into Tuesday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks – a contest which ended in a 2-1 Colorado victory. Avalanche fans welcomed the forward back with open arms, giving him a jarring ovation.
Signed by the Avalanche on Feb. 25, Forsberg suited up at Pepsi Center as a member of the Avalanche for the first time since May 4, 2004.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve played, but I thought we had a couple of chances, played pretty decent,” said Forsberg. “Of course you want to get a goal or an assist, or whatever, but I’m just happy we won the game. That’s all that matters right now.”
It was almost as if the Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, native never left the Mile High City.
Playing with Avalanche captain Joe Sakic and Milan Hejduk
, Forsberg and his linemates showed immediate chemistry in generating numerous scoring chances
Although they didn’t register a point, the trio combined for 13 shots on goal, with both Sakic and Hejduk contributing five apiece.
“It’s great to be back with those guys. They are great players,” added Forsberg. “Hopefully I get a goal next game and go from there. The first couple of shifts---like I said I think I played the last game in the middle of April of last year, so it’s been a while. I was just happy that I was out there and was part of the win.”
Forsberg himself saw 19:57 of action in his return. Through two periods, the forward logged 13:51 of ice time, the most of any Avalanche forward.
John-Michael Liles helped make Forsberg’s return a triumphant one, as he scored the game-winner at the 2:27 mark of the third period with the Avs on a power play. Liles unleashed a laser from the point that glanced off a Canuck defender before slipping by Roberto Luongo.Paul Stastny
gave the Avs a 1-0 lead after one period on his 20th goal of the season at 9:12. Wojtek Wolski gained the offensive zone on the play and left a pass for the trailing Stastny, who put a high shot over Luongo’s left shoulder from the bottom of the left faceoff circle.
Ryan Shannon scored Vancouver’s only goal when he evened the game at 18:58 of the second period on a power-play rebound goal.
Netminder Jose Theodore made several key stops in the closing minutes of the game, finishing with 26 saves while notching his 20th win of the season.Iron Andrew
On Saturday, Calgary’s Cory Sarich was scratched from the Flames’ lineup, ending his consecutive games played streak at 453. That means Avalanche forward Andrew Brunette now owns the NHL’s longest active ironman streak. Brunette, who began his streak on Jan. 2, 2002, has now played in 438 consecutive games.
Not only has he been playing, but the Avalanche winger has been producing as well. Brunette had two assists against Vancouver and has tallied points in six of his last seven games (3g/4a).Breaking Through
Liles’ third-period power-play goal was his first tally since Nov. 9, which also came against Vancouver. Liles, who snapped a 49-game goal-less drought, now has 27 points (3g/24a) in 66 games this season.
The Avs have scored a power-play goal in 29 of their 67 games, posting a 22-5-2 record when doing so.Taking Control
The Avalanche won 51% (29-of-57) of its faceoffs tonight against the Canucks. Included in that stat was a 63% (5-of-8) mark on the power play and a 71% clip (5-of-7) in shorthanded situations. Coming into the game, the Avalanche had won 47.4% of its faceoffs.