DENVER - It doesn’t exactly seem like a recipe for success for the Colorado Avalanche — captain Joe Sakic, the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, going without a goal for eight straight games. But Colorado has won all eight, including Tuesday night’s 5-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in front of 18,007 at the Pepsi Center, to equal the third-longest winning streak since the club moved to Denver. The quirky statistic reflects less about Sakic, who ranks second on the team with 46 points, and more about Colorado’s balanced scoring, which has been a key component in this season-altering streak. “We’ve been getting a lot of scoring from a number of guys,” said coach Joel Quenneville, who has eight players with 10 or more goals. “We haven’t just relied on one guy, and everybody’s stepping forward.” Tuesday night, it was Milan Hejduk’s turn. Hejduk, who won the NHL goal-scoring title in 2002-03, had not scored in six straight games. But, against the Leafs, he had two power-play goals in a span of 34 seconds midway through the second period to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead. The Avalanche added two more goals in the period — giving it four in just over 10 minutes — to take control of the game. “The whole team is peaking,” Hejduk said. “So I know if I can put some pucks in and help this team, that would be great.” With the victory, Colorado moved into a three-way tie for first place in the Northwest Division with the Calgary Flames and the Vancouver Canucks. Less than three weeks ago, the Avalanche was clinging to the Western Conference’s final playoff spot. “Now, all of a sudden, you’re looking at trying to win the division,” Quenneville said. “So it’s a realistic objective of, before the Olympic break, trying to be first in our division.” Colorado won with what is becoming a familiar formula — good goalkeeping, strong special teams and lots of goals. Goalie David Aebischer stopped 25 of 28 shots to record his seventh consecutive victory. He has turned away 188 of 200 shots in that span — a save percentage of 0.94. The Avalanche scored three powerplay goals in six attempts and killed all but one of Toronto’s six man-advantages. During the eight-game winning streak, Colorado has scored on 13 of its 52 power plays and allowed just five powerplay goals on 46 opportunities by its opponents. And, in addition to Hejduk’s goals, Alex Tanguay had a goal and an assist, Cody McCormick scored his first goal of the season and rookie Marek Svatos netted his team-leading 27th goal. In all, the Avalanche has outscored its opponents 32-14 during the streak. “We’re on a roll,” Hejduk said. “And it’s a lot of fun.” CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0365 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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