Wolski’s heroics lift Avalanche again

DENVER (Ticker) — Wojtek Wolski has not had much trouble with
his conversion to center.

Wolski scored the game-winning goal for the second straight
contest and added an assist, lifting the Colorado Avalanche to a
2-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday.

Ryan Smyth recorded a goal and an assist and Andrew Raycroft
made a career-high 43 saves for the Avalanche, who have won
back-to-back contests following a three-game losing streak.

All-Star defenseman Brian Campbell netted a power-play tally and
Nikolai Khabibulin turned aside 30 shots for the Blackhawks, who
had not lost to a team other than the Detroit Red Wings since
November 29.

“You move on. Good teams don’t lose two in a row, and that’s
something we have to strive to be,” Campbell said. “These are
the games that we find a way to win, when maybe we’re not at our
best. We’ve done it all season, and that’s the frustrating
part. We didn’t find a way to get a point and carry it to
overtime or score one late.”

With injuries to top centers Paul Stastny and captain Joe Sakic,
Wolski has moved from left wing, and the transition has been

After notching both goals in Tuesday’s 2-1 triumph over the
Nashville Predators, the 22-year-old snapped a 1-1 tie with 6:59
remaining in this one.

“I think whenever you’re doing the little things like getting
the pucks in deep, going to the net, you get opportunities and
get your chances,” Wolski said.

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Following a hooking penalty on Chicago defenseman Matt Walker,
Smyth was able to skate right into the crease with the puck, but
Khabibulin made the save. All-Star Milan Hejduk’s rebound
attempt also was stopped, but Wolski converted the third chance
for his 10th goal of the season.

“I feel pretty comfortable at center. I like having the puck
and having the opportunities to skate up the ice with it and
being able to move,” Wolski said.

Raycroft did the rest, stopping all 19 shots he faced in the
third period that included a flurry in the final minute after
the Blackhawks pulled Khabibulin for an extra attacker.

“We got a big goal in the third and just played a real solid
game like we did last game,” Raycroft said. “When we play that
well defensively, we are going to win a lot more than we lose.
They had some chances they missed, and that was the difference.”

“We weren’t sharp around their net, and they played well around
their net,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “The last
two periods, we were doing everything right, but we missed the
net with our best chances. They were off-target.”

All-Star Patrick Kane, who missed the previous two games with an
ankle injury, collected an assist on Campbell’s goal, which tied
the contest at 5:16 of the middle session.