DENVER – Brett Clark nearly had a terrible birthday. Instead, he celebrated turning 32 by saving the game for the Colorado Avalanche.
Clark’s interference penalty led to Phoenix’s tying goal in the final minute of regulation, but the Avalanche defenceman scored with 3:12 left in overtime to lift Colorado past the Coyotes 5-4 Tuesday night.
“It was a good gift and even better win,” Clark said.
It wasn’t all good news for Colorado – centre Paul Stastny is out indefinitely with a fractured right forearm. Stastny, who had a goal and two assists in the game, was hit with a slapshot in the final minute of regulation.
With Joe Sakic out until March after injuring his left hand in a snow blower accident two weeks ago, the loss of Stastny, the team’s leading scorer, hurts.
“He obviously does a lot of things for us,” Colorado coach Tony Granato said.
Stastny was injured while playing on the penalty kill that led to the Coyotes’ tying goal. Shane Doan’s second goal in the final 4:07 sent the game into overtime.
“For us to get the two goals late was huge,” said Doan, who scored with 48 seconds left in regulation tie the game. “Fortunately, we found a way to get one point, it’s just disappointing not to get two.”
Ryan Smyth had a goal and three assists, John-Michael Liles had a goal and two assists and Andrew Raycroft made 19 saves for Colorado in winning his fourth start in a row.
Olli Jokinen had a goal and two assists and Ilja Bryzgalov made 43 saves. Ed Jovanovski and Ken Klee had two assists each for the Coyotes, who lost for the second straight night.
The Avalanche appeared headed to an easy win when Smyth and Liles scored 1:18 apart in the third.
With the game tied at 2 and Peter Mueller off for high-sticking, Colorado Liles knocked in a Stastny rebound with 7:55 left.
Smyth followed with his 11th goal of the season to give Colorado a 4-2 lead.
“I thought it was good enough,” Smyth said. “I thought that goal gave us some breathing room and wrapped up the win.”
Doan made it 4-3 with 4:07 left, and then after Clark was sent off, the Coyotes pulled Bryzgalov and Doan scored his 16th goal of the season on the 6-on-4 power play.
“We had a couple of letdowns,” Clark said. “We didn’t get it in deep and they came back strong. They never quit.”
The Coyotes didn’t get a shot off in the overtime, and Clark scored from the slot to send the Avalanche into the Christmas break with a win.
“After we score to tie it up you think we’d have some momentum and they come right back,” Doan said. “It shows their resilience.”
Colorado took a 2-1 lead when Smyth made a diving centring feed to a streaking Milan Hejduk, who poked his 13th goal past Bryzgalov with 12:53 left in the second period.
Jokinen tied made it 2-all on a rebound with 13:12 left in regulation.
The Avalanche, who began a stretch of 15 home games in 19, controlled the play for most of the game. They outshot the Coyotes 48-22.
“Colorado outskated us, outhit us and outplayed us,” Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. “To come away with a point tonight, that’s a positive. Maybe it’s going to be a big point come the end of the year.”
The Coyotes took a 1-0 lead when Joakim Lindstrom’s high slapshot from the top of the left circle went off Raycroft’s glove 4:39 into the game.
Colorado regrouped after its slow start to dominate the first period, outshooting the Coyotes 17-4.
The Avalanche tied it a little more than seven minutes later when Stastny roofed a rebound with 8:01 left in the period for his 10th goal of the season.
Colorado had a goal disallowed with 6:56 left in the first when replays showed the puck didn’t completely cross the goal line.
Notes: The win was Colorado’s 200th at the Pepsi Center. The Avalanche played their first four seasons in Denver at McNichols Arena before the Pepsi Center opened in 1999. … Hejduk has 298 career goals. … Bryzgalov lost in regulation for the first time in seven starts. He is 4-1-2 in that stretch.