EDMONTON - It only took one game for the Colorado Avalanche to go from a road to ruin to the top of their division.
Marek Svatos's second period goal stood up as the winner as the Avalanche broke out of a three-game losing skid, defeating the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 on Thursday night. Colorado (12-8-1) ended a four-game losing streak on the road as well, improving their record away from home to just 3-7-1.
The win also propelled the Avalanche to the top of the tight Northwest Division, one point up on both idle Vancouver and Minnesota.
Colorado head coach Joel Quenneville said it was good to see his team alleviate its road woes with its first win on the four game trip and move back to the top rung in the Northwest.
"We salvaged the trip with one game," he said. "It was disappointing up to today's game with three tough losses and two really poor performances.
"But we still had first place on the line going into this game and it was a real motivator for us. We started the trip in first and we were able to get back there."
Karlis Skrastins and Milan Hejduk also scored for Colorado.
"It wasn't the road trip we wanted but at least we finished it off on a good note," said Colorado forward Ryan Smyth. "We have been playing very well at home so we want to continue that as we carry forward the momentum from this game."
Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky each had a goal and an assist for Edmonton, (8-13-1) losers of three of four games on their important season high six game home stand.
"We couldn't defend them without taking the penalties," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "We took eight penalties. Some of those penalties were inexplainable to be taking this late in the season.
"We also had a seasonal high number of turnovers tonight. You can't be turning the puck over like that."
Colorado hit the scoreboard first, six and a half minutes in, as Smyth, a former Oilers star, picked up a loose puck in Edmonton territory and directed it to Skrastins who blasted his first of the season past Edmonton goaltender Mathieu Garon.
The Oilers tied it up on a late power play as Horcoff wristed a shot through Avalanche goalie Peter Budaj from the side of the net to make it 1-1 after the opening period.
Colorado regained the lead in the second. John-Michael Liles' point shot was tipped in by Hejduk four seconds after a penalty to Garon expired.
Edmonton struck back 36 seconds later as Horcoff connected on a cross-ice pass to Hemsky and he blew a one-timer past Budaj to tie the game 2-2.
"I'd like to have that one back," said Budaj, who was only forced to make 14 saves for the win. "I just didn't push across hard enough. Even though they didn't have many shots, I would like to be able to do that one over."
Svatos put the Avalanche ahead for the third time midway through the second with a controversial goal as he picked up his own rebound and looked to have directed the puck in with his skate. However a video review showed he was able to touch the puck with his stick just as it was crossing the goal-line.
"I was pretty confident it would count but you never know what the results are going to be when they go upstairs," Svatos said.
"When I saw him kick it, I knew it was going wide and he had to have done something for it to go in," Quenneville said. "He's got those quick little hands around the net and can score those kind of goals."
Edmonton only had two second period shots to Colorado's 16 and was behind 23-9 after 40 minutes.
There was no scoring in the third.
Both teams return to the ice on Saturday as the Oilers play the fifth game of their six-game home stand against Chicago and the Avalanche return home to face Calgary.
Notes: Garon was in net for the fifth time in the last six games ahead of usual starter Dwayne Roloson. . . . The Edmonton Oilers finally had some good news on the injury front as defenceman Joni Pitkanen returned to the lineup. The Finnish blue-liner had missed 13 games with a knee injury. . . . Avalanche defenceman John-Michael Liles was a healthy scratch in their last game but returned to the lineup on Thursday. . . . Former Oiler Ryan Smyth made his second return to Rexall Place. In the previous two games against Edmonton, Smyth was held without a point and was a minus-three, but had an assist on Thursday. . . . The Oilers have collected five of their eight win this season in shootouts, leading the league in that category. Their only shootout loss came in Colorado two weeks ago. Ales Hemsky leads the league with four goals in six shootout attempts.