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McLeod ends marathon shootout

by Brian Hunter

Paul Stastny had a goal for the Avalanche in his return from a mid-January appendectomy.
Watch highlights from the Avs' win
Cody McLeod said he and his Colorado Avalanche teammates were trying different superstitions on the bench during Friday night’s shootout against the Phoenix Coyotes. They certainly had plenty of opportunities to see what worked and what didn’t.

Eventually it fell into McLeod’s hands, and it wasn’t any form of luck but a strong shot he put past Coyotes goaltender Mikael Tellqvist in the 12th round of the tiebreaker to give the Avalanche a 3-2 win at Arena and the all-important extra point.

“We were just sitting there kind of keeping our fingers crossed that we weren’t going to be up,” McLeod said of the Colorado players remaining for coach Joel Quenneville to pick. “He just told me as soon as we were next in line. I just wanted to hit the net. … I was pretty nervous out there, but luckily it went in the net.”

Jose Theodore followed with a stop on Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle, ending the longest shootout for either franchise, and the Avalanche ended a five-game winless streak and moved into sole possession of ninth in the Western Conference, two points out of a playoff spot.

"What are you going to do when you have 11 guys shoot," Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. "It is what it is. It's a shootout."

"Obviously we're in the same boat they are," Quenneville said. "Every point's huge. We've lost a lot of ground the last week and a half."

The Coyotes, a point back in 10th, refused to make things easy. They earned one point when Derek Morris scored with 2.8 seconds left in regulation on a hard wrist shot from just inside the blue line. Then they twice answered Avalanche goals in the shootout when a Theodore save would have ended it. Tyler Arnason scored in the sixth round and John-Michael Liles in the eighth for Colorado, only to have Joel Perrault and Mike York come right back for Phoenix.

McLeod rewarded Quenneville’s faith in him with a wrist shot over Tellqvist’s blocker. The rookie left wing has three goals and eight points in 29 games.

“One very useful player as far as, as a coach, you can use him in all situations,” Quenneville said. “He’s got a real good feel so he’s going to really help us.”

Paul Stastny had a goal for the Avalanche in his return from a mid-January appendectomy and Marek Svatos gave them a lead in the second period that held up until the final seconds. Theodore finished with 27 stops as Colorado snapped a five-game losing streak.

Steven Reinprecht also scored for the Coyotes, who received 27 saves in net from Tellqvist. Reinprecht made it 1-0 at 10:16 of the first with Phoenix enjoying a 5-on-3 power play. Radim Vrbata’s shot from the edge of the left faceoff circle was deflected by Shane Doan, and the puck slipped behind Theodore before Reinprecht tapped it home.

Stastny tied the game less than four minutes later. Back after missing 15 games, he took a long outlet pass by Jordan Leopold and fired a shot between the circles that beat Tellqvist for his 18th of the season.

Svatos took a pass from Scott Hannan just outside the top left edge of the crease and scored his team-leading 26th at 9:09 of the second, just nine seconds after a Colorado power play expired.

Stars 5, Oilers 2 | Video
The Dallas Stars are rolling, and it’s probably not a coincidence they got hot around the time veteran forward Jere Lehtinen returned from injury.

Lehtinen netted a pair of power-play goals and Brenden Morrow added a short-handed tally as the Stars won for the 10th time in 12 games and completed a season sweep of the Oilers.

"He does so many things that are overlooked," Morrow said. "We missed the little things he does, his positioning. Now he's back up to speed. He's got his legs back under him. We really depend on him."

Marty Turco made 20 saves and has now won six straight against Edmonton. Turco has a career 15-4 record against the Oilers.

The Stars delighted the crowd at American Airlines Center by building a 4-0 lead early in the third. The Oilers rallied on goals by Dustin Penner and Curtis Glencross, but Mike Modano put the puck into an empty net with 1:59 left to end their comeback hopes.

Loui Eriksson opened the scoring with 3:26 left in the first period, deflecting a centering pass by Jussi Jokinen past Mathieu Garon for his seventh of the season.

Special teams helped the Stars jump ahead by three in the second. On a power play, Lehtinen redirected a Morrow pass at 5:35, then Morrow tied a career high with his 25th goal when he skated around Jarret Stoll and beat Garon short-handed with 2:47 remaining in the period.

"The second period was an embarrassment for us," Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said. "We had frenetic play in our zone, we took penalties, and we never recovered. We played marginally better in the third period but there wasn't enough composure in our end and they capitalized."

MacTavish replaced Garon with Dwayne Roloson to start the third, and Lehtinen scored on the second shot against him at 4:32 for his first two-goal game of the season. Lehtinen, who missed 33 games with an abdominal injury, has four of his 10 goals since returning to the lineup on Feb. 1.

"I'm getting there," said Lehtinen, who led the Stars with 26 goals last season. "Spring is the best time for a hockey player. Every game is bigger and bigger."

Ducks 2, Blues 1 (OT) | Video
Samuel Pahlsson scored his first career overtime goal 32 seconds into the extra session off a feed from Rob Niedermayer as the Ducks won their third straight and eighth in nine games.

It had been a fairly quiet night at Honda Center, with the only goals in regulation coming during a span of 1:58 early in the third period, but it didn’t take long once overtime started for Pahlsson to bring the crowd to life. Niedermayer passed to him from the corner and Pahlsson’s shot from the crease got in behind Blues goalie Manny Legace.

With Friday's overtime win against the St. Louis Blues, the Ducks have won eight of their last nine games.

“I didn’t have time to do much at all,” Pahlsson said. “I got a great pass from the corner from Robbie. It hit my tape and I just shot it, and it found a way in.”

The two teams had played 107 minutes and 50 seconds of scoreless hockey against one another before Ryan Johnson scored 2:17 into the third period to give St. Louis the lead.

Teemu Selanne quickly answered for Anaheim. Off a faceoff, Kent Huskins sent the puck across to defense partner Mathieu Schneider, whose one-timer was deflected in by Selanne for his third goal of the season and the 543rd of his NHL career.

"I think we’re really playing our system very well," Schneider said. "We’re limiting other teams’ chances. There still a lot for improvement on our power play. I think that could really make us an elite team. Right now we are finding ways to win. We’re getting goals from everyone, which is another big key to success at the end of the season and in the playoffs."

Legace stopped 27 shots while Jean-Sebastien Giguere needed to make only 16 saves for the Ducks in what was another defensive struggle.

“Not a lot of goals scored. Some chances, both goalies played well,” Anaheim center Brian Sutherby said. “It was just nice that we got it done. We stayed with it and found a way late.”

For the Blues, who stand five points out of a playoff spot, the effort was a strong one but not quite good enough.

“It’s a tough loss for sure,” left wing Dwayne King said. “We battled hard for 60-some minutes, and to not come out with the two points is not something we want at this point. … We just have to think about the next game and go for the two points.”

Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.

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