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Role players help Avalanche end losing streak

by Rick Sadowski

DENVER – The Colorado Avalanche used key contributions from a couple of role players Wednesday to break a four-game losing streak.

Chuck Kobasew, who normally skates on the fourth line, and Mark Olver, a healthy scratch in the previous seven games, each had a goal and an assist in the Avalanche's 4-3 come-from-behind win against the Dallas Stars at the Pepsi Center.

Kobasew and Olver took advantage of increased playing time while serving as bookends for center Ryan O'Reilly in the third period after Avalanche coach Joe Sacco elected in the morning to scratch slumping forwards David Jones and Jamie McGinn.

Kobasew, who was a plus-4, banged in a loose puck with 3:29 remaining in regulation to snap a 3-3 tie while Olver matched his career high for points in a game with two.

"It was a big game for those guys. It's nice to get contributions from role players," Sacco said. "Chuckie scored a big goal at the end and Mark had a great response. He certainly showed a lot of desperation and passion in his game. There were a lot of other guys, too, but especially those two guys."

Kobasew went to the net to pound the puck behind goalie Kari Lehtonen after defenseman Matt Hunwick took a shot that hit the Stars' Stephane Robidas in the head. Robidas fell to the ice and needed four stitches to close a cut.

"It was a little bit of a fluke play," Kobasew said. "Matt did a good job of getting the puck to the net and the puck hit Robidas and he got hurt. I was just by myself and I just took a whack at it and it was able to sneak in short side. Definitely, it was fun being out there and being able to generate some chances. It's always fun to contribute offensively."

Said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan: "We played well enough to win and invented a way to lose."

The Avalanche rallied from trailing 2-0 and 3-2, tying the game for the second time on O'Reilly's goal at 6:20 of the third period. Olver passed to O'Reilly, who split the Stars defense while moving down left wing and fired the puck between Lehtonen's pads.

O'Reilly's goal came shortly after the Avalanche killed off a roughing penalty to Cody McLeod. The Avalanche killed all six of the Stars' power plays.

"We knew we had to do something different," said O'Reilly, whose team fell into a 2-0 hole in the first period for the third time in four games. "We said, ‘OK, we're not going to get down on ourselves. We're going to stick with it.' We weren't playing that bad of hockey."

Down 2-0 after the first period, the Avalanche tied the game in the second period on goals by Olver and Gabriel Landeskog.

"It was nice to step in and help the guys get two points," Olver said. "That's the only thing I was thinking about tonight. It was fortunate that we ended up with the bounces we had. I thought we played a heck of a game.

"I hadn't played for seven games, so it's a step there. To help contribute, that's all I ask for. To get those two goals and tie it back up was huge for us. It was key, and we needed that win bad."

Olver scored at 8:48 after Patrick Bordeleau's shot from the slot was deflected to the left side of the net. Landeskog scored his second shorthanded goal in two games at 13:30 after he intercepted Stars defenseman Trevor Daley's bounce pass off the boards. He skated in on Lehtonen and converted his own rebound to stretch his goal-scoring streak to four games.

"I have to make a play, and I made a bad play and it ended up in the back of our net," Daley said.

The Stars regained the lead at 3-2 on Ray Whitney's goal at 15:56 after he skated from behind the net. He sidestepped the Avalanche's Milan Hejduk and moved through the slot before shooting the puck into the far corner of goalie Semyon Varlamov's net.

Stars right wing Jaromir Jagr had a goal and two assists to extend his point-scoring streak against the Avalanche to eight games. He has two goals and eight assists in the streak, and he has more points (46) against Colorado in his career than against any Western Conference team, with 20 goals and 26 assists.

Jagr scored at 12:06 from the top of the circles with a shot that squirted through Varlamov, and he passed to Daley for a shot from the middle of the right circle at 16:12.

"We have a lot of young guys, so we have to learn it through this," Jagr said. "I don't think we are realizing that it's (like) a playoff game for us; every game from now on is. I don't think we played it like a playoff game. That's the way I see it."

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