NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)—Joe Sakic downplayed moving past Paul Coffey into 10th on the NHL’s career points list, focusing instead on snapping Colorado’s three-game losing streak.
The Avalanche captain had three assists Monday to increase his team lead to 44 points and push him past Coffey in Colorado’s 5-3 victory over the Nashville Predators. Sakic’s 17 goals and 27 assists this season give him 1,534 points overall.
“It is obviously a lot more fun when you’re on the winning end,” Sakic said. “It is a special feeling, but the most important thing is winning the game. We had lost three in a row, so to get the win and get out of the loss column was good for us confidence wise. I guess at the end of your career you look back at those things, but right now I’m just concerned with winning.”
Nashville coach Barry Trotz marvels at how long Sakic has been able to be a dominating force.
“Up close, when you watch Joe Sakic you realize how smart of a player he is,” Trotz said. “He is dynamic in terms of his hands and how he sees the ice. He never panics. He is a true pro.”
Trotz compares Sakic to Steve Yzerman in terms of his abilities and attitude.
“Steve Yzerman is a quiet leader who says the right things,” Trotz said. “Joe Sakic is a quiet leader who does all of the right things. It amazes me that Joe can still skate the way that he does and how much he has done over the course of 18 years. There is no question he is one of the greatest who has ever played this game.”
“This was a huge win for us, especially with the slide we were on,” Colorado defenseman John Michael Liles said. “Anytime you lose three in a row it is tough.”
The Avalanche struck first when Wolski shot a one-timer high over goalie Chris Mason’s glove hand from midway in the slot at 7:22 of the first period.
Arnott tied it with 54 seconds left in the first. His slap shot from the middle of the left faceoff circle beat Avalanche goalie Peter Budaj into the top right corner of the net.
Colorado responded with three goals in the second period.
“Budaj played well,” Liles said. “We were able to jump out to a bit of an advantage in the second period. We just kept plugging away. Nashville played well and fought back hard. We just got a few more bounces.”
Hejduk scored when he tapped a loose puck under Mason’s leg pads at 2:58. Brunette made it 3-1 when he scored on a backhand off a pass by Paul Stastny at 5:43.
Vaananen scored from above the left circle with a slap shot off a faceoff won by Sakic, who earned the assist at 6:44.
Radulov trimmed the lead to 4-2 at 12:37 when he bounced a shot from the lower edge of the right circle off the skate of Colorado’s Brett Clark. It was the Predators’ second power-play goal of the game.
Wolski’s second goal was an empty-netter with 49 seconds left.
“I think we did a number of good things,” Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said. “Guys worked hard. We got good contributions and energy from all of the lines. It was one of our better games of the year.”
Budaj evened his record at 9-9. … Rookies accounted for four points with Wolski’s two goals, Radulov’s tally and Stastny adding an assist.