DENVER – The frustration was building for Wojtek Wolski.
The Colorado forward has had plenty of scoring chances, and nothing to show for it. Wolski needed the benefit of a friendly bounce and his overtime winner Tuesday night definitely qualified. Wolski buried his own rebound 80 seconds into the extra frame to lift the Avalanche to a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators, ending a 15-game scoring drought.
“I feel like I’ve been working hard and of late getting a lot of chances, breakaways almost every game, and I haven’t been able to put it in the net,” he said. “It’s nice to contribute.”
It’s not like he hasn’t been contributing. Wolski scored in a shootout against Detroit on Sunday, running his mark to 7-for-8 in the tiebreaker this season.
But nothing calms nerves quite like a goal.
Wolski shot a puck in from the blue line that bounced off the chest of goalie Alex Auld. It caromed right back to a charging Wolski, who avoided some traffic in front of the net and knocked it in for his 12th goal of the season.
“I saw that the goalie was going down and tried to put it up top,” Wolski explained. “I’m happy we got the win.”
Ryan Shannon scored twice for the Senators as they finished their five-game road trip with a 4-0-1 mark. They also had their five-game winning streak come to a halt.
Shannon now has nine career goals, three of which are against the Avalanche.
The right winger spent most of the season playing for Binghamton of the American Hockey League before being called up on Feb. 4 to try to ignite a then struggling Senators squad.
It was the first two-goal game of Shannon’s career.
This will help settle his nerves. He’s been concerned about not scoring since his promotion.
“I was pressing a little bit, trying to force shots, trying to shoot too hard,” he said. “Tonight I kind of relaxed a little bit and found the net. It’s settling.”
The win moves the Avs into a three-way tie with Phoenix and St. Louis for last place in the Western Conference, an unfamiliar spot for them. Colorado (27-30-1) has never been below .500 this late in the season since moving to Denver.
“Right now, we’re at the bottom of the totem pole – the only way we can move is up,” defenceman Jordan Leopold said.
Andrew Raycroft stopped 20 shots for the Avalanche.
Not bad considering his start.
Ottawa wasted little time getting on the scoreboard, scoring 30 seconds into the game as Shannon lined a routine shot right through Raycroft’s legs.
The blunder didn’t bother Raycroft.
“I’ve given up a whole lot of those in my career,” Raycroft said. “It doesn’t really rattle me much any more. You get upset. I felt frustrated for giving that up. I got caught in between and made a wrong decision. You don’t want to do that right away.”
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson took a puck to the jaw, but is hopeful that X-rays taken after the game reveals no damage. He was struck when a shot rolled off an Avalanche defenceman’s stick midway through the third period, catching him squarely in the face.
“The teeth are OK, it’s more of the jaw,” Alfredsson said. “It will be sore tomorrow.”
The Senators were playing their second game in as many nights, the fatigue showing late against the Avalanche.
“It was a gritty effort,” said coach Cory Clouston, who’s 5-1-2 since replacing Craig Hartsburg on Feb. 2. “It was tough to lose it like that.”
The Avalanche may have Paul Stastny back in the lineup as soon as Friday night, the start of a six-game, 11-day road trip. Stastny has missed the last seven weeks with a broken right forearm.
“We’re excited to get Paul back … I think it’s going to help us on this road trip,” Wolski said.
Notes: Colorado remains confident that captain Joe Sakic will return to the ice this season after he recovers from his back operation and three broken fingers. … Senators D Jason Smith played in his 1,000th career game. … Ottawa made its first visit to the Pepsi Center since Dec. 12, 2005. … Avalanche F Ian Laperriere has scored in two straight games, while Ryan Smyth added his 19th of the season. … The Avalanche have played in a league-leading 33 one-goal games, going 20-12-1.