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Game Recap

Avalanche 5, Maple Leafs 3

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 2:49 AM

Associated Press

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Avalanche 5, Maple Leafs 3
Toronto Maple Leafs 3, Colorado Avalanche 5

DENVER (AP) - Skating well, winning games and perched in first place, things are finally starting to get back to normal again for the Colorado Avalanche.

Milan Hejduk scored a pair of power-play goals 34 seconds apart to lift the Avs to their eighth straight win, a 5-3 victory over Toronto on Tuesday night that pushed them into a tie for the Northwest Division lead.

Rookie Marek Svatos scored his 27th goal of the season, best in the Western Conference, to help Colorado match its longest winning streak since Oct. 10-28, 2000.

"We're playing good hockey, we're on a roll and it's a lot of fun," Hejduk said. "We're definitely enjoying it."

The Maple Leafs lost their third straight.

After struggling with their rebuilt lineup, then with an assortment of goaltending problems, the Avalanche have found their stride, right in time for the second half of the season.

Though they still only have the sixth-most points in the West, they moved into a tie with Calgary and Vancouver in the Northwest. That's a good sign for a team that won nine straight divisions and was one of the best teams in hockey during the decade leading up to this season's new collective bargaining agreement.

"We've really enhanced our position in the last week," coach Joel Quenneville said. "It's better than hanging onto that eighth or ninth position. Now, we're looking at taking the division. It's a realistic objective."

If the Avs are going to continue to dominate, it will be with players like Hejduk leading the way.

He was decisive and crisp in scoring his 12th and 13th goals of the season, both from point-blank range. The first came off a pass from Alex Tanguay on a 5-on-3 power play to tie the game at 2 with 11:52 left in the second. Moments later, Brett McLean found Hejduk unhindered in front of the net on the 5-on-4 for the go-ahead score.

That score made Hejduk the first player to reach 100 goals at the Pepsi Center, the home of the Avalanche since it opened prior to the 1999-00 season. Hejduk had a shot at an open net for the hat trick, but a Toronto defender deflected it with 10 seconds left.

Goalie David Aebischer, maligned earlier in the season while the Avs were languishing in third and fourth place, has been in net for the last seven Avalanche wins.

"When you win some games in a row, the panic gets out of the way," defenseman Rob Blake said. "We know David's going to shut it down for us now."

Abby gave up a bad goal to Jeff O'Neill after overcommitting on a shot by Mats Sundin that hit the back boards and ricocheted out to the other side of the net. That gave the Leafs a 2-1 lead early in the second, but Aebischer was solid from there, finishing with 24 saves and allowing only one more goal, to Sundin with 5:16 left.

Jason Allison opened the scoring for Toronto, which matched its longest losing streak of the season in the first of four straight games on the road.

"Too many penalties and when we went into the penalty box, they put it into the net," Leafs coach Pat Quinn said. "They were weak penalties. And mistakes where we made a mistake with the puck and either hooked somebody or got a stick up on someone. They are our mistakes and double mistakes. Give the puck away and hook somebody to cover up your mistake and we paid for it."

Ed Belfour made 26 saves in the losing effort. He was helpless on Colorado's first goal, a Blake slap shot that was redirected by Tanguay on the power play to tie the game at 1.

A few minutes after Hejduk's flurry, Cody McCormick also beat Belfour for his first goal of the season and a 4-2 lead.

Notes: Due to NHL scheduling quirks, this was Toronto's first visit to Denver since Dec. 15, 1997. ... Though he leads the Western Conference with 27 goals, Svatos still only ranks ninth in the entire league.

scoring summary
1st Period
Jason Allison (8) ASST: Alexei Ponikarovsky (7), Nik Antropov (6)
1 - 0 TOR
PPG - Alex Tanguay (20) ASST: Rob Blake (25), John-Michael Liles (22)
1 - 1 Tie
Jeff O'Neill (14) ASST: Mats Sundin (20), Alexander Steen (13)
2 - 1 TOR
2nd Period
PPG - Milan Hejduk (12) ASST: Alex Tanguay (35), Joe Sakic (30)
2 - 2 Tie
PPG - Milan Hejduk (13) ASST: Brett McLean (14), Andrew Brunette (22)
3 - 2 COL
Cody McCormick (1) ASST: Robert Boughner (3), Rob Blake (26)
4 - 2 COL
Marek Svatos (27) ASST: Brad Richardson (3), Antti Laaksonen (13)
5 - 2 COL
3rd Period
PPG - Mats Sundin (10) ASST: Tomas Kaberle (32), Carlo Colaiacovo (5)
5 - 3 COL
penalty summary
1st Period
Ossi Vaananen  Holding against  Mats Sundin
Alexander Khavanov  Holding against  Brett McLean
Tie Domi  Holding
Mats Sundin  Hooking against  Brett Clark
Jeff O'Neill  Too many men/ice - bench
2nd Period
Ossi Vaananen  Tripping against  Matt Stajan
Ken Klee  Hooking against  Alex Tanguay
Jeff O'Neill  Too many men/ice - bench
Marek Svatos  Holding against  Carlo Colaiacovo
3rd Period
Ed Belfour  Unsportsmanlike conduct
Marek Svatos  Roughing against  Matt Stajan
Mats Sundin  Hooking
Alex Tanguay  Tripping against  Ken Klee
Rob Blake  Hooking against  Jeff O'Neill
goalie stats
Ed Belfour
Ed Belfour
SA: 31TOI: 59:18
Saves: 26EV: 16 - 18
PIM: 2PP: 7 - 10
SV%: .839SH: 3 - 3
David Aebischer
David Aebischer
SA: 28TOI: 59:45
Saves: 25EV: 18 - 20
PIM: 0PP: 5 - 6
SV%: .893SH: 2 - 2 is the official Web site of the Colorado Avalanche. Colorado Avalanche and are trademarks of Colorado Avalanche, LLC. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 Colorado Avalanche Hockey Team, Inc. and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.