PITTSBURGH (AP) -- For one night during a run that grows more
impressive with each victory, role player Dean McAmmond was just as
important to the surging Colorado Avalanche as stars Peter Forsberg
and Milan Hejduk.
Colorado scored the opening goal for the 14th consecutive game,
then held off the Pittsburgh Penguins as McAmmond broke out of a
scoring slump with two goals in a 5-2 victory Thursday night.
Hejduk scored his team-leading 33rd goal and eighth in seven
games for Colorado, which improved to 11-0-2-1 in its last 14
During a run that has moved the Avalanche from the fringe of the
conference race to within striking range of division-leading
Vancouver, their top line of Hejduk, Peter Forsberg and Alex
Tanguay has combined for 22 goals and 37 assists.
''When you watch the guys on this team play, there's so much
talent there, and you just want to do something to keep it going,''
said McAmmond, who hadn't scored since Jan. 7. ''At least tonight I
helped the case.''
Steven Reinprecht added a goal and assisted on McAmmond's ninth
and 10th goals of the season. His first gave Colorado a 3-1 lead
and the second restored Colorado's two-goal lead after rookie Tomas
Surovy got Pittsburgh to a goal down early in the third period.
''The guys have been going to the net hard, and we've been
getting some ugly, hard-working goals the last couple of games,''
coach Tony Granato said. ''We worked hard for those goals and we
battled to get it done.''
The Avalanche held NHL scoring leader Mario Lemieux without a
point to remain unbeaten in Pittsburgh since moving to Denver in
1995. They are 7-0-1 over that span.
Granato tried to get defenseman Adam Foote onto the ice whenever
Lemieux's line came out, and Lemieux got only four shots in 20:46
of ice time.
''We talked about not allowing him to get a lot of room,''
Defenseman Martin Skoula gave Colorado a 1-0 lead with his third
goal on a seemingly harmless shot early in the second. He wristed
the puck toward the net from just inside the blue line, and it
flicked off the back of defenseman Marc Bergevin's left skate and
into the net.
Hejduk made it 2-0 about 3½ minutes later with a wrist shot from
the right circle through defenseman Hans Jonsson and goalie Johan
Pittsburgh, which had won its last two and was trying to win
consecutive games at home for the first time since winning three in
a row from Dec. 21-28, closed to a goal as defenseman Michal
Rozsival scored his fourth midway through the second period.
But McAmmond answered only 51 seconds later, pushing the puck
through Hedberg's pads after the goalie thought he covered it up in
the crease with his glove hand.
''That was a big goal for me,'' said McAmmond, who had only two
points and no goals in 15 games. ''When I got back to the bench,
(Serge) Aubin pulled off that monkey I've been carrying on my
McAmmond also got a relatively easy goal on a power play about
five minutes into the third, again after Hedberg had trouble
controlling the puck. Reinprecht added his 12th of the season about
2½ minutes later.
Avalanche goalie Patrick Roy stopped 26 shots before his
scheduled night off Friday against the Islanders.
Surovy, who played professionally in North America for only 1½ seasons before joining Pittsburgh, now has a goal in each of his
past three games.
''It means something to me to get those goals, but I'm still
adjusting to practice and the games,'' he said. ''The game moves a
lot faster and the players are a lot bigger up here than they are
(in the minors).''
Pittsburgh dropped to 13-13-1-2 at home. The game was the
Penguins' second of a season-high, five-game homestand. ... Hejduk
pulled a muscle in his ribs in the second and didn't return, but
Granato doesn't think the injury is serious. ... The Avalanche are
16-5-4-4 on the road. ... Colorado is 18-6-2-2 since Granato
replaced Bob Hartley as coach.