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Avs' Wilson earns some sweet revenge on Flames

by Todd Kimberley /
CALGARY -- From the small group of reporters came an obvious question: Where did he find those moves?

"I don't know," grinned Colorado defenseman Ryan Wilson. "I think I might have just blacked out for a few seconds."

The Colorado Avalanche found some welcome offense from an unexpected source Tuesday night during its first-place Northwest Division battle against the host Calgary Flames.

Not only did Wilson score his first NHL goal to open the scoring, but he also made a heads-up play to draw an assist on Cody McLeod's second-period equalizer — his first multi-point night in the bigs — as the Avs clipped the Flames, 3-2.

There was also more icing on the cake for the 22-year-old defenseman from Windsor, Ont. Those were the same Flames who traded him away last March in a three-player deal that brought Jordan Leopold to Calgary.

"I'm certainly going to remember this one," said the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Wilson, who'd been signed as a free agent by the Flames during the summer of 2008.

"I didn't really play with (the Flames), but I still know a couple of guys on their team," from his 60-game stint in 2008-09 with Calgary's AHL affiliate, then based in Quad Cities, Ill. "It's always a good feeling to score on your former team, your former organization."

Wilson now has 1 goal, 3 assists and a plus-8 rating through 10 games for the Avs, who play Wednesday night in Edmonton against the Oilers.

A second-year pro, Wilson began this season at AHL Lake Erie, but was called up for his first taste of NHL action on Oct. 11, and has stuck in Denver, because of injuries to Ruslan Salei (back) and John-Michael Liles (separated shoulder).

Wilson swooped in on a loose puck in the slot eight minutes into Tuesday's contest, going to the backhand and beating Miikka Kiprusoff to the glove side for his first NHL lamplighting effort.

"I think it took me about three seconds to get down there" from the blue line, said Wilson with a laugh. "The puck was sitting there for a while, and I think everyone got kind of tied up in front, and the puck squirted loose.

"Guys were still all in a big scrum. I just brought it to my backhand."

Wilson also got onto the score sheet late in the second period, on an alert play that led to McLeod's fourth tally of the season.

Wilson, a former member of the OHL's Toronto St. Michael's Majors and Sarnia Sting, quickly fired a two-line pass up the left wing to Paul Stastny, who found a streaking McLeod.

"Scotty Hannan was yelling at me, 'Right up!' You trust whoever you're out there with," said Wilson. "I just looked up a quick second, and saw one of their guys was on the boards, so I had to put it in the middle and 'Stas' would get it. He made a great play to get that puck to McLeod, and it was a great shot."

While Tom Preissing is rounding into form after pre-season arthroscopic knee surgery, Wilson is pulling his weight as the club's sixth defenseman at present.

Wilson (15:33), Hannan (28:14), Kyle Quincey (26:42), Brett Clark (24:08) and Kyle Cumiskey (18:39) all had to shoulder more ice time against the Flames after Colorado captain Adam Foote left due to injury in the first period.

"I like the fact that Ryan Wilson brings us a physical edge ... he plays hard, and he's a difficult player to play against in the defensive zone," Avs head coach Joe Sacco had said prior to Tuesday's game.

Afterward, Sacco heaped more praise on the NHL rookie: "I think Ryan's been playing fine for us when he's been called upon. Tonight, he stepped it up even more. He had a timely goal for us. I thought defensively he played hard. He battled, worked hard down low in the defensive zone."
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