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Avalanche 4, Mighty Ducks 3 @NHL

DENVER (AP) - Petr Sykora's shot from the slot squeezed through David Aebischer's pads and trickled to the goal line, wobbling as it came to a stop just inches short.

For five seconds the puck sat on the line, so agonizingly close to going in, before Colorado defenseman John-Michael Liles swooped in and cleared it away.

"I had it. I thought I had one," Sykora said.

He didn't and neither did the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.

Antti Laaksonen followed with his second goal and Colorado held off the Mighty Ducks in the closing seconds, lifting the Avalanche to a 4-3 victory on Thursday night.

Joffrey Lupul scored his second goal in the final minute, but the Ducks were a goal behind instead of tied because Sykora's shot came up inches short.

"I thought I had it," Aebischer said of Sykora's shot. "It was a well-played play on their part. The shot was so fast. I squeezed my legs and thought I had it, but I squeezed it enough. That's good for me."

And the Avalanche.

Rob Blake and Laaksonen had goals in the second period, and Joe Sakic made it 3-1 early in the third, scoring his fifth goal to tie Doug Gilmour for 14th on the career list with his 1,414th point. Sakic has 547 goals and 867 assists.

But despite numerous defensive breakdowns, Anaheim found a way to stay in it.

Sykora just missed on his oh-so-close shot late in the second period, then Lupul cut Colorado's lead to 3-2 on a power play goal with 12 seconds left in the second. Laaksonen scored with 4:42 left in the game to seemingly put Colorado in control, but Lupul made things interesting for the final 55 seconds by beating Aebischer from the top of the right circles.

"We were worried at the end. We made it interesting," Sakic said.

Bryzgalov gave the Ducks a shot, making some spectacular saves to keep Anaheim in it while Colorado dominated the early going. He made a stick save from his back on a shot by Brett McLean in the first period, then made a similar stop on a power play early in the third.

Bryzgalov just didn't get much help from his defense.

After Sykora opened the scoring midway through the first period, Blake scored Colorado's first goal with just under five minutes left in the first period after Alex Tanguay sent a pass from the corner through the crease to the far post. Laaksonen made it 2-1 less than two minutes later with his fifth goal after Andrew Brunette stole the puck from Ducks defenseman Vitaly Vishnevski behind the goal.

Sakic had the easiest goal of the bunch. Skating down the crease, he faked a pass to get two Ducks defensemen offbalance, then flipped a wrister past Bryzgalov 1:25 into the second period.

Ilya Bryzgalov made several more difficult stops in third period after Anaheim pulled to 3-2, including Tanguay twice from close range on power plays. He didn't stand much of a chance on the final goal, with Laaksonen scoring on a breakaway after the puck shot through Anaheim's power play unit.

"This is the worst game we played in a long time," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "But was it the worst game we played or was it the best game they played? They forced into some bad situations. They forced us out of our comfort zone."

Notes: Lupul's goal ended Colorado's steak at 14 straight penalty kills. ... Tanguay has a 10-game points streak. ... Colorado is 12-5-4-1 at home against Anaheim.

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