CALGARY – The miserable season a year ago for Wojtek Wolski and the Colorado Avalanche has become a distant memory.
Wolski’s team-leading eighth goal of the season was the game-winner Wednesday night as the Colorado Avalanche came back from an early 2-0 deficit to win 3-2 over the Calgary Flames.
The Avalanche were down by two just 1:10 into the game. They didn’t lead until Wolski’s third goal in two nights at 5:31 of the final period broke a 2-2 tie.
With the puck inside the Calgary blue-line, Wolski dodged a fallen Daymond Langkow and eluded a stick check from Nigel Dawes. The 23-year-old then moved into the slot, faking a shot to freeze goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff before firing inside the post.
“I just tried to take it to the middle of the ice and (Milan) Hejduk and (Paul) Stastny were going to the net and that created a lot of space for me,” said Wolski.
After a season in which he scored 14 goals in 78 games, Wolski is currently in the league’s top 10 in goals.
“A lot of hard work this summer,” said Wolski, when asked to explain his breakout season. “With the season we had last year, I was so disappointed. Hitting rock bottom there, you tend to step back a little bit and assess how the season went and what you have to do to get ready for the next season.”
David Koci and David Jones also scored for Colorado (10-1-2), which has picked up points in each of its last 10 games (8-0-2).
Jarome Iginla and Olli Jokinen replied for Calgary (7-3-1), which saw its three-game winning streak snapped.
“We weren’t as sharp as we should have been after that first minute, we realize that,” said Iginla. “They also played a good road game. They didn’t do a lot of flashy things, they didn’t get a ton of shots, but they were opportunistic and on a back-to-back night, they did what they had to do.”
The red-hot Avalanche have won four games in a row and sit atop the NHL’s overall standings.
“There’s no quit in the room,” said Sacco. “You get in those situations, play back-to-back games on the road, there’s a good hockey team here waiting for us, but there’s no quit.”
Colorado has fallen behind 2-0 three times this season and has come to win the game each time.
“There’s a good feeling going on, the guys are pulling for each other, they’re working hard. The guys really believe they can win right now, doesn’t matter if the situation is we’re down 1-0 or 2-0, we have that feeling that we can come back at any time,” Sacco said.
Also off to a red-hot start is goaltender Craig Anderson, who made 30 saves to improve to 10-1-2. The 10 victories for Anderson establishes a franchise record for most wins in a month.
Kiprusoff made 11 saves in falling to 7-2-1.
After grabbing a 2-0 lead on the fastest two goals at home in franchise history, Calgary generated just five shots on goal the rest of the period, allowing Colorado to get it back to 2-2 by the first intermission.
At 7:53, Koci deflected in Brett Clark’s point shot for his first goal of the season. The Avalanche tied it at 16:38 on Jones third goal from a mad scramble in front of the Flames net.
“When you’ve got a team down like that, you’ve got to step on them and tonight we didn’t,” said Calgary winger David Moss. “We let them get back into it with a couple mental lapses that certainly shouldn’t happen and then any time you let a game go that long tied, anything can happen.”
Calgary got off to a fast start against Anderson, who had given up just one goal in his previous two games.
Iginla opened the scoring at 0:55 beating Anderson on a low harmless looking wrist shot from 40 feet out. Just 15 seconds later, Jokinen’s centring pass went in off the skate of a Colorado defenceman.
“For me, it was just a matter of resetting and refocusing,” said Anderson. “My job was just to make sure it didn’t get to three. I knew I had the confidence in our team to come back and get ourselves back into the hockey game.”
Halfway through a four-game road trip, the Avalanche take its 6-1-2 road record into San Jose next for a game Friday night against the Sharks.
“We have a good mix here and the passion of the young guys is good for us because it brings energy to our game,” said Koci, whose goal was just his second in 76 career games.
Calgary wraps up a season-high five-game homestand on Saturday night versus Detroit.
NOTES: It was the third fastest two goals to open a game in Flames history. The record of 32 seconds was set versus the Hartford Whalers in 1987 … Calgary C Dustin Boyd (flu) did not play … Team Canada general manager Steve Yzerman was in attendance … Colorado has now swept both ends of the three sets of back-to-back games it has played … At the conclusion of the Flames current five games in 21 days, Calgary begins a hectic stretch of 14 games – including 10 road games – in 27 days … The Avalanche are in a stretch of 11 road games out of 13… Anderson and New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur are the only two goalies that have played every minute of their team’s games.