Avalanche 3, Wild 2
DENVER (AP)—David Aebischer followed a winless December with a nearly flawless January.
The Colorado Avalanche goalie put an end to what was quickly becoming a disappointing season by setting a franchise record with nine victories in January.
“It wasn’t easy in December, but I found a way to battle out of it,” said Aebischer, who stopped 27 shots. “I didn’t worry about whatever happened around me. I just played my game. That was the simple ingredient to better play on my part.”
Aebischer finished the month 9-2-1, topping the record of eight January wins set in 2001 by Patrick Roy, whose retired number hangs above the Pepsi Center ice.
“It’s good to beat at least one record of his,” said Aebischer, who played behind Roy that season.
As Aebischer’s play has improved, so has Colorado’s record. The Avs went 9-2-2 in January to move within three points of Northwest Division-leading Calgary.
“I think we have been playing the way we’d like to and progressing the way we’d like to,” Quenneville said. “It’s a big win.”
Hejduk’s goal and assist snapped him out of a funk in which he had failed to net a goal in 11 of his previous 12 games.
Hejduk took advantage of Daniel Tjarnqvist’s hooking penalty in the second period, scoring a power-play goal at 13:29 to give Colorado a 2-1 lead. He put the puck over Manny Fernandez’s right shoulder after taking a pass between the circles from Alex Tanguay for his 14th goal this season.
Hejduk’s points were his first since Jan. 17 against Toronto.
“It has been frustrating the whole year,” Hejduk said. “You battle, and the pucks don’t go in. Tonight, one went in.”
Brisebois added the winning goal at 2:45 of the third period with a shot from the left point that went between Fernandez’s legs. It was Brisebois’ eighth goal of the season and first since Jan. 9.
Tanguay tied it at 1 at 1:24 of the second period, with the teams skating 4-on-4. He took a pass from Hejduk from across the ice, then put the puck past Fernandez’s glove from the left circle.
“We have to play near-perfect hockey and everybody has to be going on all cylinders to win hockey games,” Wild center Brian Rolston said. “And we weren’t going.”
But until Tanguay’s goal, the Wild looked like the more energetic team despite coming off a 5-4 loss at home Monday night against Detroit.
Rolston needed just 1:23 to score the Wild’s first goal. Rolston got his own deflection near the net, then shot the puck past Aebischer’s glove to make it 1-0.
But Aebischer settled down, stopping everything until Marian Gaborik’s late goal that made it 3-2 and set up a frantic final 3 minutes.
“Maybe in December, I would have been affected by an early goal,” Aebischer said. “I’m finally where I want to be.”
Minnesota RW Brent Burns put the puck in the net during a power play at 10:33 in the third period, but the goal was waved off because Burns was called for interference. … The Avalanche are 3-11-1 when they fail to score in the first period. Colorado leads the NHL with the most goals in the first period.