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Avalanche dump Flames 6-3

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- On their last stop of a four-game road-trip, the Colorado Avalanche found some gas left in the tank -- and a little bit of offense, too.

After scoring just one goal in their first three games away from Denver -- and playing their second game in as many nights -- the Avalanche broke out of their scoring funk and beat the well-rested Calgary Flames 6-3 at Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday night.

"It was a different type of adversity we faced," said Avalanche forward Paul Stastny, who scored two late goals, including the go-ahead tally. "When you're down 2-0, 3-0 and you try to battle back, it doesn't test the mental strength as much. I think when it's a 3-3 game, last game of a road trip coming off a couple of tough losses, we've just got to find a way to stick in there and give ourselves a chance to win it and we did that."

It was Colorado's third game in four nights, all on the road, and the Avalanche's first win away from home this season.

The loss was Calgary's first action in five days -- the longest stretch of time off between games the Flames will see this season. The Flames fell to 1-3-1 and their three points are tied with Washington (1-5-1) for the fewest in the NHL.

"We're capable of much better than this," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "A couple of bad plays and they made us pay on every time that we turned the puck over. That's the difference in the game."

Stastny's pair in the final three minutes propelled the Avalanche (3-4-0) to their first win in four games.

Just eight seconds into a Mark Giordano penalty, Stastny swept the puck under Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff with 2:40 remaining in regulation to put the Avalanche ahead 4-3. Stastny then provided some insurance by bouncing the puck off Kiprusoff's pad and into the net with 1:11 left.

"Sometimes you've just got to find an ugly way," Stastny said. "When my parents are looking at the score sheet the next day, they're not going to see how I scored."

PA Parenteau, with his second of the night, iced the game with an empty-netter.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere, in his first start of the season, kept the pressuring Flames at bay earlier in the third.

Giguere smothered a Dennis Wideman blast from the point earlier, and with three minutes remaining he blockered away a Mikael Backlund break to keep the game tied -- paving the way for Stastny's late-game heroics.

"When you play back-to-back and your legs are a little tired, you need that big save, and we got that big save from Jiggy in the third and we were able to come down at the other end and take advantage of our opportunities," Colorado coach Joe Sacco said.

Fresh off a four-day break, Calgary wasted little time knocking the rust off with Jiri Hudler's first goal in a Flames' jersey.

Picking off an errant pass from Matt Hunwick, Hudler fired the puck over to Matt Stajan for a one-timer. A quick pad denied Stajan, but Giguere kicked the puck right back to Hudler, who found the back of the net from a sharp angle to put Calgary up 1-0 at 7:23.

Tim Jackman tried to extend the lead to two with just over three minutes in the period. With his linemates on a change, Jackman challenged Colorado by coming in 1-on-4 -- and split the defense before being denied by Giguere. The puck worked its way back to Chris Butler at the point, and his wide point shot was deflected off the iron, again by Jackman.

That post would prove costly before the period let out.

With 47 seconds left in the period, John Mitchell picked off Butler's fanned clearing attempt in the Calgary zone, walked off the boards and snapped the puck past Kiprusoff's blocker to tie the game 1-1.

Hudler wasted no time restoring that lead, scoring just 1:49 into the second period.

Gaining the blue line, Roman Cervenka fired a cross-ice pass to Stajan, who sent the puck back against the grain to a waiting Hudler on the doorstep. Hudler tapped the puck across the line to make it 2-1. With the assist, Cervenka recorded his first NHL point.

Parenteau knotted the game 2-2 less than two minutes later before the Avalanche took their first lead of the game. After outbattling Stajan behind the net, Chuck Kobasew centered the puck to Mitchell, who beat Kiprusoff glove side for his second of the game at 16:58.

The Flames tied the game in the final minute of the period.

With the puck at the blue line, Wideman faked a slap shot and sailed a pass to Hudler on the goal line. Hudler one-timed the puck to Alex Tanguay alone in the slot, and he beat Giguere over the glove with 17.7 seconds remaining to make it 3-3.

Though he finished with three points on the night, Hudler wasn't satisfied with how the game unfolded.

"I had a good feeling going," he said. "It's nice but it means nothing after the game is 6-3. We don't have points we needed."

The Flames will have a day to regroup before welcoming the Western Conference-leading Chicago Blackhawks to Calgary on Saturday. Colorado headed home after the game and will have Friday off before the Edmonton Oilers come to town on Saturday.

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