DENVER (TICKER) —All of the pieces are in place for the Colorado Avalanche.
Joe Sakic returned to the lineup and helped the Avalanche to a 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers, who became the latest team unable to contain the line of Alex Tanguay, Peter Forsberg and Milan Hejduk.
Sakic sat out 15 games due to a broken right foot, but Colorado did not miss a beat without its long-time captain, going 12-1-1-1. In his first game since January 20, Sakic picked up an assist on Steven Reinprecht’s goal that capped the scoring late in the second period.
“I didn’t feel that great out there. I know I have a long way to go, but it felt good to be back in the lineup and watch first-hand the big line do what they do best,” Sakic said.
The Tanguay-Forsberg-Hejduk combination continued to flourish. Tanguay scored twice, Forsberg collected three more assists and Hejduk set up a power-play goal by defenseman Rob Blake, giving the trio 52 points in the last 10 games.
“We feel that if we skate and we use our speed with the skills that those two guys have, we’re going to find ourselves having chances,” Tanguay said. “We just have to make sure we keep working hard and if we use our speed, we’ll keep getting chances. That’s the way we look at it.”
“When you have a line that is as hot as Tanguay-Forsberg-Hejduk and you have some time in front of your net, then you are going to capitalize,” Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said.
The Avalanche climbed past idle St. Louis into fourth place in the Western Conference.
“It was a big win for us,” said Colorado’s Patrick Roy, who made 22 saves. “Right now, we’re on a roll, especially at home. We have to keep playing that way. I mean, it was fun to watch.”
Mike York had a goal and an assist for the Oilers, whose winless streak reached seven games (0-4-1-2). They lead Los Angeles by just five points for the final playoff spot in the West.
“It’s beginning to sound like a broken record sometimes. Right now, we’re a struggling hockey club, there’s no other way to put it,” Edmonton’s Todd Marchant said. “Somehow, some way, we need to find a way to get ourselves out of it. We came in here tonight with a good effort, but same result.”
Forsberg set up goals by Blake and Tanguay to give Colorado a 2-0 lead 13 1/2 minutes into the first period. But Jason Chimera got Edmonton on the board 16 seconds after Tanguay’s goal and the Oilers tied it 4:51 into the second on York’s 16th tally.
After moving down the slot, York got a pass from the blue line from rookie Fernando Pisani and slipped a backhander past Roy.
But Tanguay put the Avalanche in front to stay with 9:33 to go in the period. Forsberg carried into the Edmonton zone, pulled up at the top of the right faceoff circle and feathered a pass to Tanguay in the slot. Tanguay shifted to his backhand and lifted the puck over the right shoulder of goaltender Tommy Salo.
With 2:45 to go in the second, Reinprecht’s pass from along the goal line slipped past Salo, who was pulled for the second time in four games after allowing four goals on 14 shots.
“Again, it was a decent effort, but it’s a shallow consolation right now at this point,” MacTavish said. “It’s the result that matters. I thought we played a pretty good game defensively. We didn’t give them very much. The chances they had were good, quality chances and they capitalized on them.”