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No Kariya, Forsberg? No problem!

11/21/2003

DENVER (AP) -- Never a prolific goal scorer, Steve Konowalchuk is on pace for a career year.

Konowalchuk scored two goals, Alex Tanguay had a goal and an
assist, and the Colorado Avalanche beat the New York Rangers 4-3 on
Thursday night.

Konowalchuk has scored seven goals in his last eight games. With
eight goals this season, he is on track to eclipse his career high
of 24 in the 2000-01 season with the Washington Capitals.

"I'm not going to score like that," Konowalchuk said. "Right
now I'm just taking advantage of my opportunities. I'm feeding off
of the good players here."

On Oct. 22, the Capitals traded their captain to Colorado, where
he has found new life.

"I don't think necessarily I'm done," he said. "I don't think
that's why they traded me. I hope not, anyway.

"This just feels like a fresh start. A different team,
different players. I'm having a great time. I don't remember having
a time like this."

Konowalchuk gave the Avalanche leads of 1-0 and 3-2. Rookie Cody
McCormick's goal, which made it 4-2, proved to be the game-winner.

Colorado goaltender David Aebischer had 31 saves. New York's
Jason LaBarbera, making his second NHL appearance and first start,
had 29 saves.

LaBarbera was in goal because Mike Dunham is out with a groin
injury, and backup Jussi Markkanen returned to New York to be with
his wife for the birth of their second child.

The Avalanche were without high-scoring forwards Peter Forsberg
(pulled abdominal muscle) and Paul Kariya (sprained right wrist).

Avalanche coach Tony Granato called Konowalchuk "a guy who is
willing to pay the price in front of the net. He had two big goals
tonight."

Rangers coach Glen Sather was pleased with LaBarbera's
performance.

"I don't blame him for any of the goals," he said. "He made
the initial saves. He made some great saves. But we have to be
there to get the rebounds if he's the kind of goalie that kicks the
rebounds out."

Colorado took a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by
Konowalchuk and Tanguay.

Steve Moore's shot from the left circle went off traffic in
front of the net, and Konowalchuk fought off a defender to backhand
the puck in at 6:52.

Tanguay, the NHL's leading scorer, took a pass from Joe Sakic
and scored on a one-timer from just left of the goal on a power
play at 17:34.

New York scored two goals on rebounds midway through the second
period, but Colorado countered with two rebound goals just 1:14
apart late in the period for a 4-2 lead.

Anson Carter put in a rebound from the slot on a power play at
8:55, and Martin Rucinsky gloved a rebound, dropped the puck, and
slapped it past Aebischer at 12:15.

Konowalchuk scored his second goal, poking in a rebound of Derek
Morris' shot at 16:36. McCormick scored at 17:50 on a rebound from
the right circle.

New York's Matthew Barnaby scored on still another rebound at
16:28 of the third period. The Rangers pulled LaBarbera for the
final 1:32 but couldn't convert.

Game Notes: LaBarbera was recalled from Hartford of the AHL on Monday.
... Rangers C Eric Lindros missed his fourth straight game because
of a scratched left cornea. ... Forsberg missed his fifth straight
game and eighth in the last 10. ... Colorado is 7-0-1-1 in its last
nine games.