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Stewart Steps Up After Returning To Denver

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
It looks like a few days in Cleveland was just the remedy Chris Stewart needed.

The second-year forward was a regular in the Avalanche’s lineup out of the gates this year, appearing in the club’s first four games before watching the next four as a healthy scratch.

On Oct. 20, Stewart was sent to Colorado’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters, where he played in two games before returning to Denver on Oct. 22 following an injury to Cody McLeod.

The quick reassignment to Lake Erie was all the motivation necessary for Stewart, who was Colorado’s leading rookie scorer a season ago with 19 points (11g/8a) in 53 contests.

“It was a short trip, but 48 hours felt like a week down there,” said Stewart. “It was kind of an eye-opener going down. It gave me that spark to come back up here and start contributing.”

And contribute he has.

All Stewart has done since then is record four points in two games, including scoring the game-winning goal Saturday in the Avs’ 3-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings.

After notching a pair of helpers in Friday’s 5-4 triumph over the Carolina Hurricanes at Pepsi Center, the Toronto native had a hand in Colorado’s first two tallies tonight.

First, he set up a T.J. Galiardi goal by taking the puck away from Detroit defenseman Jonathan Ericsson in Colorado’s offensive zone and slipping a pass to Galiardi, who proceeded to beat Red Wings netminder Jimmy Howard with a backhand attempt while all alone in front of the net.

Stewart and Galiardi again hooked up in the third period, with Stewart being the beneficiary. After Galiardi hit Stewart with a pass at center ice, the winger beat defenseman Brett Lebda to the outside and put a low shot past Howard from the edge of the right circle.

Stewart credits his recent success to some advice he received from Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco, whom he also played under a season ago in Lake Erie.

“Just simplify my game and move my feet,” said Stewart. “He told me when I had the most success was when I was moving my feet and that’s what I have to do every game.”

In six games this season, the 6-foot-2, 228-pound forward has now totaled five points (1g/4a).

Notes: With the victory, goaltender Craig Anderson broke the franchise record for most wins in the month of October with eight…Anderson has started all 11 games for the Avalanche this season…Ryan O’Reilly extended his point streak to seven games after gaining an assist on Paul Stastny’s empty-net goal…The rookie has totaled nine points (2g/7a) during that span…Stastny’s tally was Colorado’s first empty-net goal since March 8, 2008 vs. Dallas, a drought of 105 games (115 including playoffs)…The Avs were the only NHL team not to score an empty netter a season ago.

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