NHL Game Summary - Edmonton at Colorado
(Thursday, March 13th)
Final Score: Colorado 5, Edmonton 1
Denver, CO (Sports Network) - Jaroslav Hlinka and Tyler Arnason each posted a goal and an assist as the Colorado Avalanche pounded the Edmonton Oilers, 5-1, to take over sole possession of first place in the crowded Northwest Division.
Jeff Finger, David Jones and Wojtek Wolski also scored for the Avs, who have won eight of nine overall and six straight on home ice. Peter Budaj stopped 23-of-24 shots to pick up the win.
The victory improved Colorado's record to 39-27-6 (84 points), two points ahead of Minnesota and Calgary and four points clear of Vancouver for the top spot in the Northwest.
The Avalanche won despite the absence of Ryan Smyth and Peter Forsberg from the lineup. Smyth missed his sixth straight game with a concussion and shoulder injury, while Forsberg sat out his third straight contest with a groin problem.
Sam Gagner scored the lone goal for the Oilers, who had won three straight and seven of eight overall. Mathieu Garon allowed three goals on 14 shots before being pulled in favor of Dwayne Roloson, who let the final two goals in on 18 shots.
Colorado opened the scoring with 1:08 left in the first period. Robert Nilsson broke his stick, leaving Edmonton down a defender, and Hlinka slid a backhand feed to Finger, who fired a wrister past Garon.
"It was just a great, awesome pass by Hlinka," Finger said. "They got all focused on the puck and they gave me all day."
Sloppy play from the Oilers led to Colorado taking a 2-0 lead just 18 seconds into the second period. Ladislav Smid fired an errant pass that was intercepted by Hlinka just above the blue line and Hlinka cruised into the slot and rifled a shot over Garon's glove.
"We had a couple of really good chances," Hlinka said. "I was able to intercept that great pass. Our power play just has to work like it did tonight."
Arnason extended the lead to 3-0 on a 5-on-3 just 3:13 later, taking a pass from Joe Sakic and unloading a snap shot from the right circle that slammed into the back of the net. That goal chased Garon from the game.
"We made a couple turnovers that we should not be making at this time of year," Gagner said. "We've got some big games to focus on coming up. We did not have a good first period, but we were only down one. That goal in the first minute really hurt."
Edmonton cut the deficit to 3-1 on the power play 7:21 into the second. Hemsky charged into the zone and stuffed a shot on Budaj, who made the save, but Gagner charged in and rammed the rebound home.
Colorado's power play struck again with 5:24 left in the second, as Jones crept in front of the net and stuffed a feed from Andrew Brunette past Roloson for a 4-1 edge.
"I've felt really good out there last five or six games," Jones said. "Especially playing with such great players and getting into this playoff run."
Just 96 seconds later, Wolski stretched the lead to four on a breakaway, faking a backhand before curling the puck around Roloson on the forehand.
The Oilers were without defenseman Joni Pitkanen, who sat out with flu-like symptoms...The Avs had converted on just 3 of their last 32 power plays before hitting on 2-of-3 Thursday...Gagner's power-play tally gives the Oilers 17 man advantage goals in their last 18 games...Jones' goal came one game after he scored his first NHL goal Tuesday in Atlanta.
03/14 00:32:31 ET