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Svatos helps Avs end skid

by Brian Compton
There's something about the Northwest Division leading Calgary Flames that is bringing out the best in the Colorado Avalanche.
They certainly brought out the best in Marek Svatos on Monday night.
Svatos scored twice and added an assist as the Avs improved to just 2-5 on their eight-game homestand with a 4-3 victory over Calgary at the Pepsi Center. The win ended Colorado's four-game skid.
''We can beat good teams and then lose to teams we feel like we should beat,'' said Avs forward Milan Hejduk, who had a goal in the second period. ''We're very unpredictable.''
On Monday, though, the Avalanche got the bounces that they weren't getting as of late. Svatos was the recipient of some of those bounces. He entered the game with just three goals in his last 16 contests.
''It's very nice,'' Svatos said. ''I've been struggling not scoring goals lately. I've had lots of opportunities. I got a couple of bounces and hopefully that will be the case for the next 30 games.''
Colorado fell behind early when Rene Bourque scored just 7:43 into the game, but Svatos evened things up just under five minutes later on his 10th goal of the season. Peter Budaj (36 saves) stopped 14 of 15 shots in the opening period.
"He was outstanding," Svatos said of Budaj. "He made some amazing saves."
Hejduk gave the Avs a 2-1 lead with a power-play goal just 34 seconds into the second period. With Flames defenseman Adrian Aucoin in the penalty box, Hejduk beat NHL wins leader Miikka Kiprusoff with his 19th goal of the season. After the win, though, Hejduk remained frustrated by his team's recent slide.
''We need to turn this thing around and start winning hockey games to make the playoffs,'' said Hejduk, who tied Anton Stastny for fifth place in franchise history with 636 career points. ''It's very frustrating.''
Aucoin made up for his holding-the-stick penalty when he tied the game at 2:23 of the second, but Ruslan Salei restored Colorado's lead just 63 seconds later to make it 3-2.
''They had a lot of energy," Flames coach Mike Keenan said. "They came out with the energy we saw a week ago. They were very aggressive when they went to the net."
Jarome Iginla tied the game again for Calgary when he tallied his 20th goal of the season at 11:01 of the second, but Svatos scored again 4:21 later for what proved to be the game-winner.
''We didn't take them lightly. We knew it was a tough game,'' said Iginla, who reached the 20-goal mark for the 10th straight season. ''Unfortunately, tonight we didn't make the game-breaking plays and the timely plays as they did.''
Both goaltenders were terrific in the third period, which saw Colorado outshoot Calgary 16-13. Budaj's play helped the Avs beat Kiprusoff for the first time in five tries this season.
''The guys played great,'' said Budaj, who made back-to-back stops on Dion Phaneuf late in the game. ''It's a sign of a good team, coming to the third period, up by one goal and you're able to hold onto the lead and get the two points.''
Their ability to hang on in the third period helped the Avalanche improve to 17-0-0 when leading after 40 minutes.
"The intensity and the energy was very good," Avs coach Tony Granato said. "I thought Peter made some big saves for us and played very solid. We went to the net extremely well."
They'll need to do that again on Thursday night, when they finish their homestand against the surging Dallas Stars.
"Every game for us right now is the playoffs," Svatos said. "We're battling for that playoff spot, so every point is huge for us. Hopefully we can come up big in the next one, too."

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

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