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Sakic Caps Rally With OT Winner

by Staff Writer / Colorado Avalanche

DENVER (AP) - Joe Sakic scored a power-play goal 25 seconds into overtime and the Colorado Avalanche rallied past the Florida Panthers 5-4 on Tuesday night.

Sakic got open in front and Paul Stastny hit him with a pass from behind the net.

Stastny tied the score with 36.7 seconds remaining and the Avalanche skating 6-on-3. They pulled goalie Jose Theodore while Florida's Bryan Allen (interference) and Ville Peltonen (delay of game) were in the penalty box.

Brett Clark, Tyler Arnason and Wojtek Wolski also scored for Colorado. Sakic, who also had two assists, needs three goals to become the 17th player in NHL history to reach 600.

Chris Gratton had a goal and two assists for Florida, and Ed Belfour stopped 36 shots. Olli Jokinen, Nathan Horton and Jozef Stumpel also scored for the Panthers.

Colorado's Karlis Skrastins played in his 486th straight game, tying Tim Horton for the longest streak by a defenseman in NHL history.

Skrastins is nicknamed "Scratch" - but he never is one on game nights. He can break Horton's mark Thursday night at home against Atlanta.

Theodore, making just his second start in 17 games, stopped 28 shots while filling in for Peter Budaj.

It was the first time the Panthers played in Colorado since a 4-1 win on Jan. 2, 2003.

Florida came unraveled in the final minute of regulation. Allen drew a penalty with 50 seconds remaining and then Peltonen was whistled when he tried to clear the puck out of the zone and it went into the stands.

Colorado outshot Florida 19-4 in the third period. The only shot in overtime resulted in Sakic's goal.

The Panthers took advantage of two defensive mistakes by Colorado in the second period that resulted in goals by Gratton and Stumpel. Gratton shot the puck in off the skate of Ken Klee, and Stumpel finished off a play after the Panthers stole the puck at center ice. Stumpel's goal gave Florida a 4-2 lead.

Skrastins assisted on Wolski's 18th goal to give Colorado a 1-0 lead in the first period. Florida countered with goals by Jokinen and Horton.

Before the game, Colorado activated defenseman John-Michael Liles from injured reserve. Liles had been out since breaking his left foot at Minnesota on Jan. 6. He's wearing a protective pad on his foot.

"I wanted to get back out there as soon as possible," said Liles, who played 8:24 in the game. "I feel like I can help the team."

Liles, who missed 11 games, was fourth among defenseman in goals (10) before the injury.

Notes: Colorado F Brad May, who underwent reconstructive shoulder surgery on Sept. 28, might be back in uniform Thursday night against Atlanta. ... Ian Laperriere and Steve Montador dropped the gloves at center ice midway through the second period and threw a barrage of punches. Both were sent to the box for fighting. ... Juraj Kolnik needed stitches to close a cut above his lip after he was hit by Ossi Vaananen's stick. There was no penalty called.

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