CALGARY – Daniel Winnik made sure Chris Stewart’s second career hat trick didn’t go to waste.
Winnik scored with 2:20 left in regulation as the Colorado Avalanche cooled off the streaking Calgary Flames 6-5 on Thursday.
Colorado battled back from 3-1 and 4-3 deficits to earn the narrow victory.
“It was a total team effort,” said Stewart, who scored once in the first period and twice more in the second 29 seconds apart to tie up the game at 3-3. “It’s great to see that we’re getting scoring from (all) lines. It’s just exciting to watch out there.”
Brandon Yip and T.J. Galiardi also scored in the third period for the Avalanche (5-4-1), who were winless in three games entering Thursday.
“Especially against these guys, it’s good to get a win,” said Winnik, who fired a rebound past Calgary goalie Henrik Karlsson to send the 19,289 fans at the Scotiabank Saddledome home unhappy. “It’s always nice to get a goal, but it’s especially nice to get the game winner.”
Ryan O’Reilly had three assists, while Paul Stastny and Kyle Cumiskey each set up two goals for the Avs.
“We got contributions from a lot of different guys,” said Colorado coach Joe Sacco, whose squad lost 4-3 in overtime to the Canucks in Vancouver on Tuesday night. “Three points out of four on this road trip is a lot to be proud of.”
Niklas Hagman, Olli Jokinen and Matt Stajan each had a goal and an assist for the Flames (6-4-0), whose winning streak ended at three games.
Tim Jackman and Alex Tanguay also scored for Calgary.
“Our best players–outside of Olli–weren’t very good, bottom line,” said Calgary coach Brent Sutter. “You give up six goals in the NHL, you’re not going to win very many games. When you’ve got a 3-1 lead in your own building with that much time left, you nail it down. Good teams, that’s what they do.”
With goalie Craig Anderson out of the lineup with a knee injury, Peter Budaj made his second straight start for the Avs and made 14 saves to improve his record to 2-0-1.
Karlsson, making his home-ice debut, stopped 30 of 36 shots.
The game featured a 10-minute pre-game ceremony to honour Calgary forward Craig Conroy for playing in his 1,000th NHL game. In addition to being presented a framed jersey and a silver stick to commemorate the occasion, Conroy also received a cheque for $25,000, which he promptly donated to charities supporting minor hockey and Alzheimer’s research.
“All the fun stuff before was awesome,” Conroy said. “I took that all in. I would have loved to have gotten the win tonight, but it just didn’t happen, so we have to regroup and win the next one.”
Playing on a line with Jackman and Stefan Meyer, Conroy drove hard to the net on his first shift and drew a high-sticking penalty from Colorado defenceman John-Michael Liles.
With Liles in the penalty box once again for tripping Calgary captain Jarome Iginla, the Flames opened up the scoring at 6:45 of the opening period. Hagman blasted a point shot that hit Cumiskey in front before trickling past Budaj.
Just 62 seconds later, the Avs responded with a power-play goal of their own when Stewart swatted a pass from Paul Stastny through Karlsson’s legs.
Less than six minutes later, Jackman one-timed a hard pass from defenceman Cory Sarich past Budaj to put the Flames up 2-1.
The Flames built up their lead to two goals at 11:43 of the second period when Stajan took a drop pass from Iginla and fired a blistering slap shot low to the glove side past Budaj.
Stewart pulled the Avalanche to within a goal at 16:15 before completing his hat trick 29 seconds later to tie the game 3-3.
“Confidence is a big thing right now,” said Stewart, who leads the Avs with eight goals and six assists in 10 games this season. “I come to the rink every day and I try to get better. That’s the attitude I’ve got.”
Late in the second, Jokinen lifted a pass from Hagman into the top corner, short side past Budaj to give the Flames a one-goal lead heading into the third period.
Yip tied the game again early in the third when he backhanded a low shot to the far side behind Karlsson. Galiardi then converted a feed from Stastny to putthe Avs up by a goal.
Tanguay made a nice move to backhand a shot past Budaj to tie up the game at 5-5 before Winnik rounded out the scoring at 17:40 of the third.
NOTES: With Anderson out of the lineup, Colorado recalled netminder John Grahame from Lake Erie of the AHL. Grahame, who has 97 NHL wins to his credit, last played in the league on March 14, 2008 in Buffalo against the Sabres as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes.…Prior to the game against the Avs, the Flames had outshot their opponent in all nine games so far this season. Jokinen, Jackman and Stajan all recorded their first goals of the season for the Flames.…For the first time this season, Liles failed to record an assist. Liles had recorded at least one assist in all nine of Colorado’s previous games to set a new NHL record for the longest assist streak by a defenceman to begin a season.