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Paul Stastny's goal and two assists help Avalanche beat Lightning

Stastny had a goal and two assists, and Joe Sakic scored on the power play in the Avalanche's 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night.

"Everybody experiences stretches, whether it be a scoring drought or maybe not having the same energy all the time," Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said of Stastny. "One thing is for certain, you're comfortable with him in any situation whether he scores or not."

Stastny had gone five games without a goal, but notched three assists over that stretch.

"We have to remind ourselves there is a learning curve involved, be it a college guy or a first-year player," Quenneville said.

"His head is already getting big enough, and not just because he's cocky," Colorado defenseman John-Michael Liles said. "He's got a huge head.

"He's playing phenomenally for us and I think everybody saw it back in training camp, you know, the potential that he has, and he's only getting better."

Tyler Arnason broke a tie with a second-period goal. Milan Hejduk also scored for Colorado, which won for the second time in five games.

Peter Budaj stopped 26 shots while making his fourth consecutive start.

The Avalanche power play was 0-for-14 over three games before Sakic's goal at 16:43 of the first period. Sakic has four goals and four assists in six games.

Stastny, a product of nearby Denver University, underplayed his recent scoring drought and his three-point night.

"We needed the extra goal, I think," Stastny said of Colorado's fourth goal. "We've been relying too much on Boods (Budaj), and it helped out a little."

Vincent Lecavalier scored his 23th goal and Vaclav Prospal added one for Tampa Bay. The Lightning fell to 6-11-1 in their last 18 games.

Marc Denis, Colorado's first-round draft choice in 1995, made 28 saves for the Lightning.

"Marc gave us a chance to fight back into the game," Tampa Bay associate coach Craig Ramsay said. "It's frustrating when we are given that opportunity and we can't seem to get it done."

Trailing 3-2, Tampa Bay kept the puck in the Avalanche end of the rink for most of the third period, but couldn't capitalize. Budaj caught a shot from the slot by Brad Richards at 5:24, and robbed Prospal with a glove save at 10:44.

Wojtek Wolski took a holding penalty at 6:44 of the period for Colorado, but Tampa Bay couldn't muster a shot on goal.

Ian Laperriere missed a wide open net for the Avalanche, fanning on a shot from in front of the crease. Denis caught Wolski's close-in shot at 11:10.

Stastny added an insurance goal with 1:50 left.

The Avalanche took a 1-0 lead on Sakic's 18th goal. With Doug Janik off for holding, Sakic took a pass in the slot and wristed a shot past Denis' stick at 16:43 of the first period.

Colorado held a 12-7 shots advantage in the opening period.

The pace picked up in the second period, and Prospal tied the game at 1:45. Cory Sarich intercepted Avalanche defenceman Ossie Vaananen's sloppy pass along the boards and had his shot blocked by Budaj. Prospal got to the rebound and knocked it in.

Hejduk gave Colorado the lead back at 3:17 with a shot over Denis' glove, but Lecavalier's one-timer from the left of Budaj at 4:30 made it 2-2.

Arnason redirected a shot from the left point by Karlis Skrastins past Denis at 12:43 to put Colorado ahead 3-2. Skrastins' shot came as Brad Richards left the penalty box.

"He (Arnason) was behind our last line of defence, so you've got to put everything on that first save," Denis said. "It's unfortunate."

Notes: Sarich played in his 450th game with Tampa Bay . . . The Lightning are 2-3 in the second of back-to-back games . . . Colorado D Karlis Skrastins played in his 473rd consecutive game.


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