DENVER – Paul Stastny had a forgettable game in Colorado’s loss to Vancouver on Tuesday night.
He made up for it Thursday night.
Stastny scored twice, and Craig Anderson made 27 saves to move into a tie for the NHL shutout lead with seven in the Avalanche’s 3-0 victory over the Florida Panthers.
Anderson matched New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur, Phoenix’s Ilya Bryzgalov and Florida’s Tomas Vokoun for the shutout lead. Vokoun made 28 saves for the Panthers.
Stastny’s performance was a big change from Tuesday, when he was a minus-3 and had a key turnover that led to the second of Vancouver’s five straight goals. Colorado blew a 4-1 lead and lost 6-4 in a key divisional matchup.
Stastny’s struggles didn’t sit well with the young centre.
“Especially in a division game,” he said. “Defensively, my line was irresponsible so we wanted to play smarter today and show them the last game was a fluke.”
He did with his second two-goal game of the season.
“He knows when he plays well and when he doesn’t,” Colorado coach Joe Sacco said. “He knows that the last game wasn’t his best game. That’s what good players do, though, they step it up the next game and take on the challenge of being the best player.”
Stastny has been content to pile up assists as his teammates rack up goals, but he became a scorer against the Panthers.
On the first goal, defenceman Brett Clark hesitated on a shot from a point, drawing two defenders to the ice and then sent a blistering shot on net. Vokoun made the stop, but the rebound landed in front and Stastny backhanded it in at 4:59.
“We didn’t have too much emotion in the first period,” Stastny said. “We kind of sat back to see how it was going to be played. Once we got that goal we got our confidence.”
Stastny made it 2-0 with a power-play goal with 4:39 left in the period. The Avalanche had a 5-on-3 power play for 13 seconds, and a second after Cory Stillman finished serving a bench minor, Stastny struck. Chris Stewart sent a pass across the zone and in front of Vokoun, and Stastny one-timed it for his 14th goal of the season.
Once Colorado got the lead, Anderson made it stand. Playing against his former team, he faced few challenges through the first two periods. His biggest save came on Rostislav Olesz midway through the second period.
“I’m glad for Craig. He played well tonight and he’s obviously having a great year,” Florida coach Peter DeBoer said.
Florida turned up the pressure in the third. Stephen Weiss had two good chances early, setting the tone for the Panthers’ best period, but they couldn’t solve Anderson.
“He’s a good goalie. He works hard and he’s come a long way,” Florida forward David Booth said. “He’s going to take that team far.”
Anderson, who has 13 NHL shutouts, was glad to get the better of his former team.
“For me, this is my team here in Colorado and these are the guys I’m playing for,” he said. “I just want to beat up teams I used to play for. It’s kind of a good feeling.”
With the Panthers pressing for goals, the Avalanche several chances to make it a 3-0 game. They finally cashed in when Matt Hendricks scored his seventh goal with 3:34 left.
“I ended up on a breakaway and luckily it went in,” Hendricks said.
NOTES: Avalanche C Peter Mueller has at least one point – seven overall – in all five of his games since coming over from Phoenix in a trade. … Stewart had two assists and has seven points in his last three games. … The Avalanche finished the season 12-5-1 against the Eastern Conference.