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Quick Start Leads Avs to Victory

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche jumped out to a quick start Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Kings by scoring three goals in the first period. They kept the pressure on by adding three more in the middle frame en route to a 6-1 win. The victory was Colorado’s fourth straight at home and fifth in six games at Pepsi Center.

After a Ruslan Salei point shot and a scramble in front of the Los Angeles goal, Marek Svatos notched his sixth goal of the season – and third in five games – just 3:28 into the contest. It was the Avalanche’s fastest goal to start a game this season, eclipsing Milan Hejduk’s tally 6:44 into Colorado’s Oct. 18 contest at Dallas.

The Avs would set another season-best shortly after, as Hejduk beat netminder Jason LaBarbera with a wrister at 3:53. The tallies from Svatos and Hejduk came just 25 seconds apart, marking the shortest amount of time between two Avalanche goals this season. The previous mark was set on Oct. 23, when Paul Stastny and Cody McLeod struck 1:05 apart against Edmonton.

From there, it was all gravy.

McLeod would add a tally of his own in the first period after putting a big hit on Kings forward Derek Armstrong and then going to the net, where he knocked home the rebound of a Cody McCormick shot at 11:44. The Avalanche’s three first-period goals tied a season-high, set on Nov. 29 vs. Tampa Bay

The goals kept coming in the second period, as Ryan Smyth netted a power-play tally from just outside the crease at 2:11. T.J. Hensick, stationed behind the Kings’ goal, set up the play by threading a feed in front to Smyth.

McLeod added his second tally of the night at 4:48, while Chris Stewart’s first NHL goal – a short-handed effort – came at 11:18 to stretch the Avalanche lead to 6-0.

The Kings got on the scoreboard with a power-play goal from Oscar Moller at 12:02 to round out the second-period scoring.

Considering all the action in the first 40 minutes, the third period was surprisingly subdued. No goals were scored as the Kings out-shot the Avs, 13-8.

Lappy, Zeiler Square Off
In a move that was expected, Avalanche assistant captain Ian Laperriere dropped the gloves and went a few rounds with Los Angeles’ John Zeiler 3:29 into the first period. Zeiler had previously caused an injury to Adam Foote during the Nov. 22 match-up between the teams by boarding the Avalanche defenseman. Zeiler received a three-game suspension for the hit.

Foote (upper back/knee) has not played since the injury, but has begun taking part in full drills with his teammates during practice.

McLeod Gets Two
Cody McLeod recorded the first multi-goal game of his young NHL career tonight. In his first 76 NHL contests, the left wing had a pair of multi-point games, but had never scored twice in one night.

His second goal came after Kings netminder Jason LaBarbera misplayed the puck and had to rush to get back into position. After gaining control, McLeod put a backhand over the sprawling goaltender.

A skirmish ensued as soon as the red light went on to signal the goal, as Raitis Ivanans confronted McLeod and all 10 skaters on the ice gathered in the right corner. McLeod and Ivanans each received a two-minute minor for roughing.

“I got a couple of lucky bounces, went to the net hard tonight and got a couple lucky bounces that went in,” said McLeod. “That’s kind of my game, just crash and bang and get to the net. Get loose pucks and luckily they went in tonight.”

A Pair of Firsts for Stewart
Playing in only his third NHL contest, Chris Stewart had a big impact on tonight’s game.

The rookie recorded his first NHL assist/point on Cody McLeod’s second-period tally. Less than seven minutes later, Stewart would add his first NHL goal. With the Avs short-handed, Ian Laperriere batted a puck down the ice with his hands (a legal play, since it occurred in Colorado’s defensive zone). Stewart raced to the puck and found himself on a breakaway. LaBarbera made a pad save on Stewart’s initial attempt, but the Toronto native buried his own rebound.

“I was a little nervous when I took that penalty there. I just came out of the box,” said Stewart. “I think Lappy gloved it ahead and they knocked it out of the air. I just went in on a breakaway and tried to go backhand-forehand and got the rebound luckily. That’s what they say, ‘just stop in front of the net,’ and this time it worked out for the better.”

Armstrong left the game with an upper-body injury after absorbing the aforementioned hit from McLeod in the opening period and Svatos left with a back injury in the second frame (neither player returned)…Eleven different Avalanche players recorded points in the game, with Hensick, McLeod, Smyth, Stewart and Tyler Arnason each producing multi-point efforts...The Avalanche tied a season high with six goals tonight, equaling the mark set on Dec. 1 at Minnesota (6-5 win)…Colorado has scored 23 goals in regulation over the past six games (3.8 per game)…John-Michael Liles recorded his 170th career point tonight, tying Jeff Brown for fifth place on the franchise’s all-time defenseman scoring list.

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