DENVER – Stefan Elliott got his first NHL goal out of the way in a hurry.
Elliott scored the winning goal in his NHL debut and Semyon Varlamov had 31 saves to lead the Colorado Avalanche over the Edmonton Oilers 5-2 on Saturday night.
Paul Stastny, Shane O’Brien, Jan Heda and Jay McClement had a goal each, and Ryan O’Reilly, Milan Hejduk and Chuck Kobasew had two assists apiece as the Avalanche snapped a two-game home skid.
Elliott was called up from the AHL when defenceman Erik Johnson was placed on injured reserve with a groin injury. Elliott made an immediate impact, scoring midway through the third period.
“It’s nice to be able to knock off both of those at once,” Elliott said. “It’s something special to score my first goal, let alone it being my first game.”
Elliott’s goal was part of a four-goal eruption by the Avalanche in the third period. They trailed 2-1 entering the period and tied it with O’Brien’s power-play goal, his first of the season, and 1:56 later Elliot made it 3-2. The defenceman skated along the blue-line before throwing a wrist shot through traffic and past Edmonton goalie Devan Dubnyk about eight minutes into the period.
“Right before he shot it I was yelling on the bench, ‘Why not?,’ O’Brien said. “He found a way to wrist it through. Skillfuldefencemen can find those little holes.”
Elliott made an impression with his defence, too, breaking up a potential 2-on-1 moments before scoring the eventual winner.
“He showed good poise with the puck and he showed a lot of poise defensively,” Colorado coach Joe Sacco said. “We had a couple of big plays by a guy playing his first game in the NHL. It was good to see.”
Heda scored his second goal of the season with 3:40 left, and Stastny added an empty netter with 1:53 remaining to seal it. It was his seventh goal of the season.
Ryan Jones had a goal and an assist, Ladislav Smid also had a goal and Dubnyk finished with 24 saves for Edmonton, which was playing its fourth game in six nights.
“I think maybe fatigue caught up to us, probably cost us the game at the end of the night,” Oilers coach Tom Renney said. “We were on fumes in the third period.”
Jones broke a 1-1 tie when he scored on a rebound 2:24 into the second period, his sixth goal of the season. But Colorado came storming back in the third.
“We absolutely collapsed in the last period,” Smid said. “We just handed the game over to them. It’s pretty disappointing.”
Smid gave Edmonton a 1-0 lead with his first goal in nearly two years. Jones carried the puck deep into the Colorado zone and drew Varlamov out of position. The goalie scrambled to get back into the crease but skated into O’Brien, and Smid scored into an unguarded net 2:59 into the game.
The Avalanche got even when McClement scored 1:36 later. Kobasew brought the puck into the Edmonton zone but Dubnyk made the save. The rebound came out to McClement, who shot it over a sprawled-out Dubnyk for his third goal of the season.
The Oilers suffered a blow when left wing Taylor Hall left the game after sustaining a left shoulder injury in the first period. Hall, the first overall pick in the 2010 draft, has seven goals and 18 assists in 22 games this season.
He will have an MRI on Monday.
“We’ll see what the MRI tells us,” Renney said. “Step back from the ledge, first of all. Just relax and see what the MRI and the medical staff tells us.”
Notes: Elliott is the first defenceman in Avalanche history to score a goal in his NHL debut. The last franchise defenceman to do it was Jean-Marc Richard for the Quebec Nordiques on Feb. 2, 1988. … Smid’s last goal came Dec. 5, 2009, a span of 124 games. … The win was the Avalanche’s first against a Northwest Division opponent in seven games. … Colorado has allowed just two power-play goals in the last 24 chances. … Oilers LW Ryan Smyth had his six-game point streak snapped.