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Another milestone for Sakic

by Brian Compton /
Paul Stastny celebrates with his teammates one of his five points on the night as the Avs defeated the Sharks 6-2 at the Pepsi Center on Sunday night.
When it comes to leadership, consistency and productivity, few have done it better in this game than Joe Sakic.

The Colorado Avalanche captain had a goal and an assist to move past Phil Esposito into eighth place on the NHL points list in Sunday’s 6-2 win over the San Jose Sharks at the Pepsi Center.

With the win, Colorado (2-1-0) – which got a goal and four assists from Paul Stastny -- pulled into an early three-way tie for first place with the Edmonton Oilers and Minnesota Wild in the Northwest Division. It was San Jose’s first regulation loss of the new campaign, as the Sharks fell to 1-1-1.
Sakic got the party started with his first goal of the season at the 15:18 mark of the first period. The Avalanche captain -- who now has 1,591 points on his resume -- capitalized on a two-man advantage for the 611th goal of his illustrious career.

With Jeremy Roenick and Marc-Edouard Vlasic in the penalty box, Sakic one-timed a return pass from Stastny past Evgeni Nabokov for the 1-0 lead. Milan Hejduk scored his first of two less than three minutes later – also on the power play -- to put Colorado up by a pair.

“Obviously, I’ve been around a long time,” Sakic said. “For me to have played this long and get to those guys who meant a lot to the game, it’s an honor.”


Not only was it a memorable night for Sakic, but it also marked the first time Avalanche defenseman Scott Hannan faced his former team.
After spending eight seasons with the San Jose Sharks, the 28-year-old went up against several familiar faces on Sunday. Obviously, the juices were flowing at a greater rate than normal.

 “I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to it, but you have to approach it as though it was just another game,” Hannan said prior to opening faceoff. “You just have to worry about going out there and concentrating on what you have to do as a team.”

The Avalanche did just that, and, in the process, picked up win No. 2 on the 2007-08 season. Not only did Hejduk chip in with two goals and an assist, but Ryan Smyth scored his first goal for Colorado and added a helper for the high-powered Avs.

Ryane Clowe scored his first of two goals and cut Colorado’s lead in half at the 7:47 mark of the second period.
But the Avalanche stormed back and found the back of the net twice in the first 2:47 of the third period. Stastny picked up his fourth goal of the season just 51 seconds into the frame, and Hejduk notched his second tally of the night 1:56 later when his wrist shot beat Nabokov as Colorado took a 4-1 lead.

“I don’t think they’re coming easy,” Stastny said of his early-season tallies. “I’ve gotten a couple of good bounces. I’m playing with some good linemates.”

Colorado head coach Joel Quenneville is highly impressed with how collected the sophomore is and believes Stastny will only continue to improve.
“I thought last year he was at a pretty impressive level, and to just keep getting better is a great sign,” Quenneville said. “With the puck, his patience level is at the highest end of his game.”
Nabokov was chased when the Avalanche struck for another pair just 18 seconds apart later in the third period. Marek Svatos made it a 5-1 game at the 7:48 mark before Smyth scored shorthanded for his first goal in a Colorado uniform.
“We were pushing the pace in the second, and we were aggressive and going down and they didn’t have much,” Nabokov said. “The third period starts, and we give up a 3-on-2, and that made the momentum for them.”

Clowe scored his second goal of the night via the power play with just 2:07 remaining in the game. Avalanche goalie Peter Budaj, who was chased after allowing four goals in Nashville on Thursday, bounced back with a 24-save effort. He stopped five shots during a four-minute power play after Hejduk was handed a double-minor high sticking penalty just 1:12 into the contest.

“We have to play better without the puck, and we just didn’t compete,” Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. “When you are that sloppy you are going to get embarrassed, and we were.”
Material from wire services was used in this report.
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