DENVER – Cody McLeod scored the tiebreaking goal with seven minutes left, and the Colorado Avalanche snapped the Dallas Stars’ five-game winning streak with a 3-2 victory on Thursday night.
McLeod is a fighter with some finesse – he’s one of just two players in the NHL this season who have at least 10 goals and 100 penalty minutes. The other is St. Louis’ David Backes.
McLeod, who was whistled for hooking in the first period, scored his 12th goal of the season when he circled around the net and fired a shot on Marty Turco that somehow found its way in.
The workmanlike goal sent the Stars to just their eighth loss since Nov. 30.
The Stars pulled Turco with 1:15 left for an extra skater, but the Avalanche remained the only team in the league without an empty-net goal. At the other end, Peter Budaj made his 22nd save with 20 seconds left.
The Avs have played an NHL-high 30 one-goal games, and they are 18-11-1.
Marek Svatos broke a 1-1 tie with a power-play goal just 42 seconds into the third period.
Svatos camped to Turco’s right as both teams scrambled for the puck just outside the crease. Wojtek Wolski scooted the puck to him, and he knocked it in on the power play for his third goal in two games.
The Stars tied it at 8:02 on Loui Eriksson’s 25th goal. He took a precise cross-ice pass from Toby Petersen to easily beat Budaj, who slid over too late.
The first period was about to finish scoreless when Steve Ott pushed the puck past Budaj with just 40 seconds left. Matt Niskanen took a shot from just inside the blue line, and Ott stuck his stick out, tipping the puck over Budaj’s left shoulder.
Colorado tied it at 1 in the second period when Milan Hejduk took a pass from Ryan Smyth, sliced toward the net and scored over a sprawled out Turco. Hejduk’s goal moved him into sole possession of fifth place on the franchise’s career scoring list. He had been tied with Anton Stastny at 636 points.
With the score, Hejduk also reached the 20-goal mark for the ninth straight season.
Notes: The Avs closed out their season-high, eight-game homestand 3-5. Their other wins came against the Northwest Division-leading Calgary Flames. … The Avs play 10 of their next 12 on the road. … The last team to go without an empty-net goal was the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2005-06.