Series (Game 1 of 2)

Colorado leads 2-0

Game 1: Thursday, February 20th
Game 2: Saturday, March 1st

Avalanche 5

(28-14-6, 73 pts)

Penguins 2

(24-27-5, 57 pts)

8:00 PM ET, February 20, 2003

Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1 2 3 T
COL 0 3 25
PIT 0 1 12

D. McAmmond (Avalanche - LW): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

S. Reinprecht (Avalanche - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 2

A. Foote (Avalanche - D): Goals: 0, Assists: 0

Everyone now seems to be contributing for Avs

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 games.

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,'' McAmmond said.

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 3 minutes later with a wrist shot from the right circle through defenseman Hans Jonsson and goalie Johan Hedberg.

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 back.''

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 2 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 1 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).''

Game notes

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.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press