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Stoa Scores Again In Loss To Kings

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Sunday’s regular season finale between the Colorado Avalanche and the Los Angeles Kings meant a whole lot more to the visitors than the home team.

While Colorado was officially locked into the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference following a 5-2 loss to Chicago on Friday, the Kings came into Pepsi Center still looking to improve upon their playoff seeding. Depending not only on their own performance, but how things would shake out the rest of the afternoon around the NHL, the Kings knew they could head into the postseason seeded anywhere from the No. 5 to the No. 7 spot.

The Avalanche held a 1-0 lead for a large chunk of Sunday’s contest thanks to a first-period tally by Ryan Stoa. The majority of the game thereafter was evenly matched, with the Kings ending up with a slight 33-32 advantage in the shots department.

But Jarret Stoll scored with 4:32 remaining in regulation and Dustin Brown netted the game-winner 1:31 into the extra session to give Los Angeles a 2-1 win.

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“Well we don’t want to take any negative out of that, we played a good game. They played a chess match tonight,” said Avalanche captain Adam Foote. “They got a tip shot at the end. We’re not going to take any negative out of that. Whatever happened, whether we won the game or lost, it has nothing to do with where we’re going right now. We played pretty good, and we’re going to do a couple touch-ups before next week.”

The Avalanche finished the 2009-10 campaign with a 43-30-9 record, good for 95 points and a 26-point increase over the club’s 2008-09 total.

First-Round Opponent
The biggest drama of the afternoon for Avalanche fans might have come while watching the league-wide scoreboard to see which team Colorado would face in the opening round of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

San Jose set the stage last night, beating Phoenix by a 3-2 score in a shootout at HP Pavilion. That meant Chicago would need to top Detroit this afternoon in order to gain the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference and a postseason meeting with the Avs. Anything less than a Chicago victory today, and the Avs would be heading to San Jose for the opening round of the playoffs.

Just minutes after Colorado’s game finished, Brad Stuart scored in overtime to give the Red Wings a 3-2 victory over the Blackhawks. As a result, the Avs will face the Sharks in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.

The NHL is expected to release a detailed postseason schedule later tonight.

Stoa Gets Another
A good deal of Ryan Stoa’s rookie season has been spent on the Lake Erie/Colorado shuttle. Last Monday, the Avalanche recalled the Bloomington, Minn., native for the sixth time this season. Since then, Stoa has been a factor offensively for Colorado.

After recording one assist in his first 10 NHL contests, the rookie has now scored in back-to-back games after netting his first NHL goal during Friday’s loss to Chicago and then opening the game’s scoring with a first-period tally today.

Stoa’s goal this afternoon came as a result of following his own shot. Milan Hejduk started the play by gaining the offensive zone and spinning to buy some time before making a pass to Stoa in the right circle. The rookie threw a quick shot on net, but when Kings goalie Erik Ersberg failed to cover the rebound, Stoa crashed the crease and tapped in his second goal of the year.

“That’s just where my momentum was going and I saw it laying there so I gave it a whack,” said Stoa. “It feels good, but it obviously feels better when you win.”

The University of Minnesota product finished his first professional season with three points (2g/1a) in 12 games for Colorado and 40 points (23g/17a) in 54 contests with Lake Erie.
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