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McLeod Filling Role Nicely

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Cody McLeod is doing more and more to establish himself as a vital cog in the Avalanche’s lineup. Ever since his call-up from the Lake Erie Monsters on Dec. 16 of last season, McLeod has appeared in each of the Avalanche’s 85 regular season contests and has found myriad ways to contribute on the ice.

A season ago, the gritty winger posted nine points (4g/5a) in 49 games and became the first Avalanche rookie to surpass 100 penalty minutes in a single season (he wrapped up the year with 120).

It’s been more of the same from the Binscarth, Manitoba, native this season, as evidenced Monday night in Colorado’s 5-1 win over the Nashville Predators. McLeod notched his second career multi-goal game and also displayed his hard-nosed approach to the game.

McLeod notched his sixth goal of the 2008-09 campaign in the first period of tonight’s game to open the scoring. McLeod tapped home a puck from the goalmouth at 8:34 after Marek Svatos tossed a puck toward the net from the left corner.

McLeod quickly netted his seventh tally of the year less than three minutes later. Parked in front of the Nashville net, McLeod blocked the view of goaltender Pekka Rinne as Brett Clark unleashed a laser from the left point at 11:30. The goal was initially credited to the defenseman, but was later given to McLeod when replays showed he had deflected the shot into the net.

So goes Cody McLeod; doing the dirty work, banging home so-called “garbage goals” and being a general thorn in the side of the Avs’ opposition.

While he doesn’t show up in the scoring column every night, he nonetheless makes his presence felt on the ice. The winger has a team-high 82 hits and also leads the club with 82 penalty minutes.

Cody McLeod scored two goals Monday in Colorado's 5-1 win over the Nashville Predators, marking the second time he's recorded a multi-goal game this season
“The younger guys have to step up, including myself. Jonesy scored a goal tonight and Stewy got one. We just have to keep doing that. It’s a 20-man effort and everybody contributed,” said McLeod. “Lucky bounces, but work hard and you get the bounces. Just go to the net and you’re going to get bounces here and there. Some go in, some don’t. But they went in tonight.”

McLeod finally let someone else in on the scoring 4:42 into the second frame, as Chris Stewart notched his third goal of the season. After Marek Svatos kept a puck in the Avs’ offensive zone at the blue line, he made a cross ice pass to Jordan Leopold. The defenseman made a quick feed to a cutting Stewart, who put a low shot past Rinne from a sharp angle.

David Jones made it a 4-0 contest after streaking up the right wing and attempting a centering feed meant for Wojtek Wolski. The puck never got there, hitting off the stick of Nashville’s Shea Weber and coming right back to Jones, who notched his sixth goal of the year at 6:17.

Nashville got one back at 9:17 when Predators captain Jason Arnott struck from the left point on a power play.

John-Michael Liles continued his hot streak after he and Ryan Smyth found themselves on a two-man breakaway early in the third period. After giving up the puck to Smyth, Liles got it right back and buried it 48 seconds into the frame to account for the game’s final tally.

Scoring From All Over
Already without captain Joe Sakic for an extended period of time, the Colorado Avalanche was dealt a big blow recently when Paul Stastny suffered a fractured right forearm attempting to block a Olli Jokinen shot in a Dec. 23 game against Phoenix.

With their top two centers out of the lineup, the Avs knew they would be taking more of a scoring-by-committee approach than at any other point this the season. You simply can’t ask a player to step in and seamlessly fill the shoes of a Sakic or a Stastny.

The healthy Avalanche players have certainly done their part to answer that call and tackle that challenge head on. In the two games so far without Stastny, six different players have scored Colorado’s eight goals during regulation, with Liles and McLeod striking twice apiece.

Pepsi Center Buzzing
If there was ever any doubt how much of an advantage home ice can be, the Avalanche has been dispelling those uncertainties lately. The Avs wrapped up a 3-0 homestand with Monday’s win and moved their record to 8-2-0 in their last 10 games at Pepsi Center. Overall, Colorado is 9-4-1 in its last 14 contests and 14-8-1 in the last 23.

The victory also put the Avalanche three games over .500 for the first time this season.

With a goal and an assist tonight, Liles now has seven points (3g/4a) in his last three outings…It was Liles’ third consecutive multi-point game, equaling a franchise record for defensemen…Smyth’s assist extended his point streak to three games, during which he’s totaled seven points (2g/5a)…Colorado’s defensemen have scored five of the club’s 13 regulation goals over the last three games…Milan Hejduk played in his 737th career game tonight, tying Peter Stastny for fourth place on the franchise’s all-time games played list.
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