CALGARY – Colorado’s slumbering power play woke up just in time to bury the Calgary Flames.
Paul Stastny set up the tying goal then scored the overtime winner Tuesday night as the Avalanche came from behind for a 3-2 victory over Calgary. Stastny’s winning power-play goal came when he was set up by Ryan Smyth at the side of the net, and with Miikka Kiprusoff down and out was left with nothing but an empty net to slide the puck into.
“He saw me and he made a good play and I tapped her in,” said Stastny. “It’s always big, especially when you are down a goal in the third. We’ve got to enjoy this one and be ready because we play Vancouver tomorrow.”
The winning goal came with Jarome Iginla in the penalty box for tripping defenceman John-Michael Liles as he skated through centre ice, a call that was emphatically disputed by coach Mike Keenan and jeered by the sell-out crowd of 19,289.
“I definitely didn’t agree with the call there,” Iginla said. “But I know shouldn’t have made it that close in OT to let the ref have any kind of say, so I feel bad about that.”
The Avalanche tied the game 2-2 at 13:33 of the third period when Milan Hejduk wristed a shot inside the far post after taking a drop pass from Stastny.
Colorado entered the night 1-for-31 with the extra man over its previous seven games and its power play continued to fizzle early in Tuesday’s game. The Avalanche were blanked on their first three power plays and even gave up a short-handed goal to Robyn Regehr. But they converted their final two opportunities to secure a pivotal two points in the Western Conference standings.
“Obviously that’s a huge win for us,” said Colorado captain Joe Sakic. “We’re down one going into the third and great comeback. We needed the two points and hopefully we can build on this.”
Smyth scored the other goal for Colorado (32-26-6), who won for just the second time in their last eight but moved them into ninth spot in the West, just two points out of a playoff spot.
Dustin Boyd also scored for Calgary (33-23-8), which had its four-game winning streak snapped. However, thanks to Minnesota’s 4-1 loss to Washington, the Northwest Division-leading Flames open up a two-point cushion over the second place Wild.
It made for a bad ending to an already rotten day for Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf, who earlier in the day had his truck stolen.
Phaneuf didn’t want to comment on it after the game but Iginla touched on it.
“It isn’t funny and we couldn’t believe it,” Iginla said.
Always a tenacious competitor on the ice, Phaneuf was his regular self throughout the night getting in a skirmish with Colorado Kurt Sauer at one point picking up a charging and roughing minors.
Colorado was one of the busiest teams in the 24 hours leading up to Tuesday’s trade deadline signing free agent Peter Forsberg on Monday and then acquiring defenceman Adam Foote and Ruslan Salei on Tuesday.
Of the three newcomers, only Foote was in the line-up and he didn’t appear on the visiting bench until six minutes left in the first period, as his flight from Columbus arrived late.
Regehr’s first career short-handed goal came on a slapshot from the blue-line that changed directions off Foote’s in the slot, then caromed off the skate of unsuspecting Avalanche defenceman Scott Hannan at the side of the net before trickling past goaltender Jose Theodore.
Theodore had 26 saves for the Avalanche to improve to 17-17-2.
Kiprusoff, the NHL’s second star last week, had 31 saves for the Flames as his record fell to 32-19-9. ¼cf2 Calgary tied the score 1-1 at 15:35 of the first period when Owen Nolan set up Boyd at the side of the net.
Colorado opened the scoring when Smyth broke down his off wing and flicked a backhand shot towards the net from 30 feet out that seemed to fool Kiprusoff deflecting off his glove and into the top corner.
Notes: Colorado had just five healthy defenceman without Foote… The injured defencemen for Colorado are Brett Clark (shoulder) and Jeff Finger (hand)… Calgary LW Alex Tanguay (neck) did not play… After scoring 20 goals in his first 43 games, Calgary LW Kristian Huselius has just one goal in his last 21… The game featured the two players with the longest active consecutive games streaks – Calgary D Cory Sarich (452) and Colorado LW Andrew Brunette (435).