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Keeping up with Jones: Avs forward making a name for himself with recent play

The Colorado Avalanche celebrate a goal by David Jones in overtime of an NHL hockey game against the Vancouver Canucks in Denver on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011. The Avalanche won 4-3. (AP Photo/Chris Schneider)

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The Colorado Avalanche celebrate a goal by David Jones in overtime of an NHL hockey game against the Vancouver Canucks in Denver on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011. The Avalanche won 4-3. (AP Photo/Chris Schneider)

DENVER - For a player with such a common moniker, Colorado Avalanche forward David Jones is sure making a name for himself.

His play on the ice this season has been far from ordinary.

Jones has two overtime winners this month, becoming the first Avs player to accomplish that feat since Peter Forsberg more than a decade ago.

Yet even with Jones' recent success, he's hardly a known face. When he's out with the likes of Paul Stastny and Matt Duchene, Jones barely draws a second glance as fans fawn over his more famous teammates.

Not that he minds flying under the radar, relishing being just your average Jones.

"It's nice to not have the pressure as one of these high-profile guys," the 26-year-old said. "I just try to go about my job and do what I have to do on the ice, do what the coaches tell me to do. That's made me pretty successful this season."

The fourth-year player has already set a career high with 16 goals, including overtime winners against division-leading Vancouver on Tuesday and another Jan. 4 while hosting Buffalo. The one he knocked in against the Sabres was the first OT winner of his career—and provided his father with a nice birthday gift.

His dad also is David Jones, along with his grandfather, making him David Jones III, actually.

"We keep it pretty generic in the family," Jones said with a grin.

Sure, he may have a run-of-the-mill name, one of around 270 listed in the white pages in Colorado alone. But his play on the ice has definitely helped him stand out.

A speedy right-winger, Jones provides a deft touch around the net, like when he scored in overtime against the Canucks by simply swatting in a rebound, one of his two goals that evening.

He's also a forward who can finish his checks with force and open things up for the players on his line, dishing out 12 assists.

"A versatile player for us," coach Joe Sacco said. "When 'Jonesy' is skating, playing physical and on the puck, he's a very effective player for us.

"For a little while there, he was going to through a tough patch."

He was at that, logging more time in the rehab room than at the ice rink.

His last two seasons have been marred by injuries, ending such promising starts.

"Pretty healthy my whole career and then back-to-back years I'm hurt," the six-foot-two, 210-pound native of Guelph, Ont., said, shaking his head. "And fluke injuries, too."

Two years ago, San Jose Sharks defenceman Douglas Murray messed up Jones' shoulder with an awkward hit, forcing Jones to sit out the final 34 games.

Last season, Jones got off to his best start yet—second on the team in goals and leading the squad in game-winners—only to blow out his left knee when the Minnesota Wild's Chuck Kobasew fell into him. Jones missed the final 55 contests.

With the team surging toward the playoffs, though, Jones attempted to hurry his return, hoping to get back so he could join the Avs for their first-round series against the Sharks. But his torn ACL and MCL weren't on the same timetable as his desire.

Another blow as watched from the sideline.

"It's depressing because you don't feel like you're part of the team. You're just rehabbing," said Jones, who lives in North Vancouver, B.C., during the summer. "But I've got an optimistic mind-frame. I just stayed positive."

In July, Jones finally felt like his knee had mended, the burst of speed back in his skates.

Since then, he's been off to a flying start.

Outside of a few bumps and bruises here and there—missing three games early with arm and hand injuries—it's been a pretty pain-free season for Jones.

He's already set career bests in games (43) and points (28), demonstrating just what he can do when he stays healthy.

"The team has a lot of faith in me," Jones said. "I've just got to deliver."

Jones has come through with two big overtime goals, giving the Avs valuable points as they try to make a second straight post-season appearance. The team is currently 11 points behind the Canucks in the Northwest Division.

Not since Forsberg in October of 2000 has a Colorado player scored two OT winners in the same month.

Jones is now in some pretty exclusive company.

"I'd like to think that maybe at some point here they (fans) will know who I am," Jones said. "But it's fun to fly under the radar, and go about your business out there and take care of things on the ice and do my best.

"Whether people know who I am? It's a pretty generic name, so that doesn't really bother me."

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