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Avs end season with win over Oilers

by Rick Sadowski
DENVER -- Adam Foote put the finishing touches on his NHL career Sunday, and his Colorado Avalanche teammates presented him with a fitting parting gift.

David Jones' power-play goal 1:03 into overtime gave the Avalanche a 4-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers at the Pepsi Center in the season finale for both teams.

The Avalanche, who broke a four-game losing streak, finished 29th in the overall standings with a 30-44-8 record and 68 points, the team's worst record since it arrived in Denver from Quebec City in 1995-96.

The Oilers, 30th in the league with a 25-45-12 record and 62 points, closed out the season with three consecutive losses.

"The game had some meaning, even though both teams were solidified in the standings," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "The game mattered for obvious reasons. We wanted to finish the season winning the last game. You always want to win your last game so you feel a little bit better about yourself heading into the offseason, and with this being Footie's last game, a guy who really helped carve a winning tradition in the organization, it's nice to get a win in that regard."

Foote, the Avalanche captain and 39-year-old defenseman who on Friday announced he would retire after 19 NHL seasons, played for the first time since suffering what he revealed after Sunday's game was a fractured ankle in a March 26 game in Vancouver.

Yet he was given 22 shifts totaling 15:21 in ice time, all in even-strength situations.

"Way more than I expected. I thought maybe one or two shifts," said Foote, who made his NHL debut with the Quebec Nordiques on Oct. 19, 1991. "(Assistant coach Sylvain) Lefebvre told me, '(The injury) is a long way from your heart,' so I said, 'All right, I got to get this done.' I think the adrenaline takes over. I felt worse when I was on the bench. There's times when you think about it on the ice, when there are certain pivots, but when I was skating forward it felt pretty good. I'm not the only one who's (played hurt). Ninety percent of the players in this league have done it before."

Completing his career with a win "was huge," Foote said. "Thank God the guys scored, because I was going to be on my first power play ever right after that. I just had no gas left."

Jones, who also had two assists, knocked in the rebound of Matt Duchene's shot 46 seconds after Duchene drew a tripping penalty from the Oilers' Liam Reddox.

"I was just fortunate to get it for Footie. It was his night," Jones said. "It wouldn't have felt right going out with a loss."

The Oilers felt Foote could have been assessed a penalty earlier in the overtime, but figured the chances were slim that he would be sent to the box.

"I think everyone in the room understands what happened," Oilers defenseman Kurtis Foster said. "Maybe the refs missed it. But it's just too bad we ended up getting one and they scored. But the guys didn't fold the tent. We played pretty well."

Foster, on a power play, and Reddox scored second-period goals to give the Oilers a 3-2 lead. The Avalanche had won only four of their 44 previous games when trailing after two periods.

"You could tell in here, it was pretty quiet and everyone was pretty (upset)," Jones said.

It didn't take long for the Avalanche to tie the game. Milan Hejduk cashed in Duchene's crossing pass 30 seconds into the third period, scoring against goalie Nikolai Khabibulin for a power-play goal.

"At least we did something on the power play because it's been a struggle," said Hejduk, who also had an assist and passed Peter Forsberg into fourth place on the all-time franchise scoring list with 757 points.

Reddox collected his first goal of the season at 12:28 after Foote bounced a pass off the boards. Oilers forward Ryan O'Marra wound up the puck and fed Reddox, who skated to the net and punched a shot past goalie Peter Budaj.

Edmonton's Teemu Hartikainen scored a power-play goal at 1:26 of the first period, but Colorado grabbed a 2-1 lead on goals by Ryan O'Reilly and Philippe Dupuis that came 50 seconds apart.

"The first period, we didn't come out the way we wanted," Foster said. "We weren't helping Khabi very much. The way the game ended up, the results were not what we wanted. It's too bad that's the way it ends. There are a lot of unhappy people in here."

The Avalanche made sure the near-sellout crowd of 17,566 went home happy because it was Fan Appreciation Day, but mostly because the team sent Foote into retirement on a winning note.

Foote received a number of standing ovations, which he acknowledged with a wave of his stick each time. He thanked the fans while on the ice after the game for their support all these years.

"It was huge," he said. "I was trying to keep it together. Seeing it with your teammates, it hit me the most when I was with my teammates. It was fabulous. It was a good night."

Foote's final game also was extra special for Duchene, who grew up an Avalanche fan and has been living with the Foote family for two years.

"The NHL as I have known it has had him in it," Duchene said. "He's been my sounding board at home. When I'm frustrated, he's the guy I talk to for advice. It was a very special game for me to be a part of. It was great that he got to play."
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