Avalanche Tops Buffalo For Fifth Straight Win
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Wojtek Wolski scored the go-ahead goal 1:41 into the third period, extending the Colorado Avalanche's winning streak to five games with a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night.
Paul Stastny set up two goals to extend his point streak to 17 games and match an NHL rookie record set in 1993 by Winnipeg's Teemu Selanne. Milan Hejduk had a goal and assist, and Brett McLean also scored for the Avalanche, who are on their best roll since winning eight straight midway through last season.
The ninth-place Avalanche (34-29-5) moved to within six points of idle Minnesota in the race for the Western Conference's final playoff spot, and won their fourth straight road game. It's the team's longest streak since winning four in a row in January 2004.
Jason Pominville and Nathan Paetsch scored for the East-leading Sabres, who lost for the third time in 12 games (9-2-1).
The Sabres had a three-game winning streak snapped despite the return of co-captain Chris Drury, who missed four games with a concussion after being blindsided by Ottawa's Chris Neil two weeks ago. Drury, playing on a line with newly acquired forward Dainius Zubrus, did have a solid scoring chance, but had his snap shot from the slot gloved by Peter Budaj.
Budaj, coming off a 2-0 shutout at Boston on Tuesday, stopped 19 shots to win his fifth straight.
Wolski was credited with the decisive goal, on a crossing pass from Joe Sakic. The assist was the 965th of Sakic's career, moving him into 11th on the NHL list, one ahead of Doug Gilmour.
Stastny's prettiest play came in setting up Hejduk's short-handed goal that tied the game at 1 midway through the first period. Sneaking up the left wing, Stastny eluded two Sabres defenders, drove around the net and fed Hejduk, who scored on a one-timer from the right circle.
The Avalanche haven't missed the playoffs since 1994 when they were still based in Quebec City. They wrap up their five-game road trip at Minnesota on Sunday.
Notes: Avalanche RW Marek Svatos missed his fourth straight game with a groin injury. ... The Sabres entered the day with the same record (44-16-5) as they had through 65 games last season after which they stumbled through an 0-5-1 stretch. ... Wolski's goal was his 20th, giving the Avalanche two rookie 20-goal scorers - Stastny has 22 - for only the third time in franchise history. Peter and brother Anton Stastny had 39 in 1980-81, while Marian Stastny (35) and Miroslav Frycer (20) did it the following season. ... Paul Stastny's streak is the longest in the NHL this season, and the best run since Ottawa's Dany Heatley had a point in 22 consecutive games from Oct. 5 to Nov. 29, 2005.