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Hejduk scores shootout winner, lifting Avalanche to 4-3 road victory over Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. - The Colorado Avalanche are still dominant in Florida.

Milan Hejduk scored the winning goal in the shootout, lifting the Avalanche to a 4-3 victory over the Florida Panthers on Sunday.

Andrew Brunette had two goals for Colorado, which dealt Florida its sixth straight home loss. The Avalanche have eight straight road wins against the Panthers.

Marek Svatos and Wojtek Wolski both shot wide of the net for Colorado before Hejduk's wrister got by Tomas Vokoun.

Svatos also scored in regulation and Jose Theodore made 30 saves for Colorado.

"They are a hard-driving team and they kept coming at me, but I was able to hold them and force the shootout," Theodore said.

Nathan Horton, Stephen Weiss and Olli Jokinen failed to score for Florida in the shootout.

Jokinen, David Booth, and Jay Bouwmeester had goals for the Panthers, who rallied from three one-goal deficits. Vokoun stopped 37 shots.

"At the end we had some chances to win but didn't capitalize," Vokoun said. "Shootouts are fun to win but tough to lose."

The Panthers have never defeated the Avalanche in the BankAtlantic Center and are 1-11 against them in Florida. The Panthers have not defeated the Colorado franchise since a 4-2 victory over the Quebec Nordiques on April 22, 1995, at Miami Arena. The Nordiques became the Avalanche the next season.

"They are a pretty good hockey team," Florida coach Jacques Martin said. "We showed a lot of character coming back three times. We missed our three (in the shootout) and they got one in. I guess today it was not our turn."

Brunette's second goal gave the Avalanche a 3-2 lead. Hejduk spun around and passed from the left circle to Brunette in front, and his shot got by Vokoun's glove at 8:11.

"It's nice to get a bounce here and there and have a decent night like that," said Brunette, who got his first multi-goal game of the season. "Sometimes you have games where you get a little hot streak going."

Florida answered at 11:27 on Jokinen's power-play goal. Ruslan Salei made a cross-ice pass to Jokinen well above the right circle. His slap shot got past Theodore to make it 3-3.

"It was overall a very tight game," Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said. "They kept coming back every period."

The Panthers tied it for a second time at 14:59 of the second. Horton brought the puck out from behind the net and passed to Booth just inside the left circle. His one-timer beat Theodore on the stick side to make it 2-all.

The Avalanche took a 2-1 lead on Svatos' power-play goal at 12:53 of the second. Vokoun blocked a shot by Jeff Finger but Svatos grabbed the rebound. His tip-in from in front trickled past Vokoun's stick.

Florida got even at 1 during a power play when Bouwmeester took a slap shot from the left point. It got past Theodore's left leg and into the net at 14:52 of the first.

Colorado took a 1-0 lead on Brunette's goal at 3:20. Brunette brought the puck out from behind the goal and poked it into the corner of the net on Vokoun's stick side.

Notes: Brett McLean played his first game against his former club since signing with Florida as a free agent last July 1. ... Colorado played its first game at the BankAtlantic Center since Jan. 21, 2004. ... Jokinen played his 531st game with the Panthers, passing Paul Laus for third place on the team's career list.



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