Avs get back on win track
NEW YORK – Nineteen seconds after scoring on a breakaway, Joe Sakic had to quickly figure out a new way to get a puck past Kevin Weekes.A TV timeout and a perfect record in penalty shots provided all the answers to the Colorado Avalanche captain.Sakic scored twice in the second period to supply all the offense the Avalanche got in a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers on Sunday night.He broke up a scoreless game with a rising shot during a power play at 13:52. When he got held up seconds later on another breakaway, Sakic was awarded the fifth penalty shot of his career. Like the four before, he found the back of the net. This time he zeroed in on the space between Weekes’ pads.”I knew he wasn’t going to give me high,” Sakic said.The Avalanche snapped a three-game losing streak by winning their sixth straight from the Rangers, dating to Nov. 20, 2001. They are 9-1 versus New York in the past 10 meetings.This one came courtesy of Sakic, who had a 10-game point streak stopped Saturday night in Colorado’s 5-4 loss to the New York Islanders.While his first goal was being announced, Sakic was hooked by Martin Straka as he came in alone and was awarded the penalty shot. Sakic streaked down the middle and squeezed the puck in to push the Avalanche’s lead to 2-0 on just their 11th shot. The spurt gave the 36-year-old forward eight goals in 12 games and his second multiple-goal effort of the season.”I saw a little hole there and he almost made a good save,” he said. “It was a bounce it kind of needed. It could easily have hit his pad and stayed out.”The Avalanche also reversed two trends. They had been 4-0 in the first of back-to-back games and winless in the second half.”We finally had to battle to win a game,” defenseman Rob Blake said. “We haven’t been working nearly hard enough to win games. It wasn’t a pretty win, but it’s a win.”New York has dropped two straight, both at home, for the first time since Nov. 15-17. It is the Rangers’ first losing streak of the season at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers’ hadn’t played since losing 3-2 to Vancouver on Tuesday night.”They came in here and played a real good road game and got themselves a win,” Rangers coach Tom Renney said of the Avalanche. “We should’ve been the team that was playing 60 minutes much like the way we played the last 20.”We’ll have better nights than we had tonight. We’ll win again.”Ryan Hollweg, who fought Ian Laperriere 37 seconds after the opening faceoff, cut the Rangers’ deficit in half when he scored his second career goal with 19.4 seconds left in the second period. Hollweg took three whacks at the right post before putting a rebound of Jaromir Jagr’s shot past rookie goalie Vitaly Kolesnik.It was Jagr’s 800th assist.But 38 of New York’s 102 goals this season have come from Jagr and rookie Petr Prucha, who had a six-game scoring streak snapped. Renney expected New York to generate offense from other places.”We have to make life tough for our opponent to defend so that even though they might not be pretty goals we certainly can put the puck in the net,” he said.Kolesnik earned his first assist on Sakic’s first goal. The goalie made a pass out to defenseman John-Michael Liles, who moved the puck from the neutral zone onto Sakic’s stick as he cut into the center of the Rangers’ zone.The Avalanche weren’t generating much offense on their own but were helped by the Rangers, who gave them five straight advantages – including Sakic’s penalty shot – in an 11-minute span of the second period. New York only had one power play through two frames.That helped Kolesnik, who made 29 saves, win for the third time in five starts since being recalled from the AHL on Dec. 6. He made four straight starts before sitting out Saturday. He was sharp in the third period when the Rangers had two power plays and pushed for the tying goal.Weekes stopped 15 shots in just his second appearance in nine games and first at home since beating Carolina on Nov. 19. His four-game winning streak ended.Notes: With 556 goals, Sakic is tied with John Bucyk for 19th place on the NHL list – four behind than Jagr. Sakic also is 12th with 1,437 points. … After 10 straight games with first-period goals, the Avalanche had none against the Islanders and Rangers. … Jon Klemm holds the Avalanche record for fastest two goals when he scored 9 seconds apart against Calgary on Oct. 17, 1997.
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