Edmonton Oilers right winger Zack Stortini, left, gets the upper hand in a fight with Colorado Avalanche left winger Cody McLeod in the first period of an NHL hockey game in Denver on Monday, Jan. 18, 2010. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/David Zalubowski)
DENVER - Craig Anderson had few sprawling saves, no flashy stops.
In fact, the Colorado Avalanche netminder made everything appear rather easy. And that is a sign of a goalie in a good groove. Anderson turned back 24 shots, and Kyle Cumiskey and Matt Duchene each scored twice, helping the Avalanche to their fourth straight win in a 6-0 rout of the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night.
The 28-year-old Anderson has the Avalanche clicking at an opportune time, keeping his club ahead of Vancouver and Calgary atop the Northwest Division.
It has been quite an inaugural season in Denver for Anderson. He has set personal bests in starts (41), wins (24) and minutes (2,461).
On Monday, he added another to the list as he earned his career-high fourth shutout of the season. He wasn't tested all that often, and really only had one memorable save. That came in the second period when he casually slid over to stop Patrick O'Sullivan's close-in wrist shot.
Other than that, he was constantly in the proper place.
"I play better when I'm more in control and not trying to do too much," Anderson said. "When you make the unbelievable save that makes the highlight reels, you're out of position and you're desperate. When you're making the easy saves and making everything look easy, that's a sign of a good goalie who's reading the play well."
He's been reading things well all season. It wasn't enough to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic team that will play in Vancouver next month. Ryan Miller, Jonathan Quick and Tim Thomas will man the nets there for the Americans.
"You can't fault them for taking the guys they did, because they've had outstanding seasons," Anderson said. "I'm going to take it as rest and get ready for the last month of the season."
While the Avalanche matched their longest winning streak of the season, the Oilers are heading in the opposite direction. They've dropped eight straight and 15 of 16.
Was this rock bottom?
"I won't be flashing my teeth, because I think they just got kicked in," Edmonton coach Pat Quinn said. "After a game like that you're pretty discouraged. There were a lot of people that didn't compete very well."
Shawn Horcoff shared his coach's disappointment.
"This is unacceptable. There has to be a change," Horcoff said with his head between his hands. "This is frustrating. It's the same thing every night."
With his two goals, Duchene has 15 this season, the second most among rookies. New York Islanders forward John Tavares leads with 17.
"It's my 49th game of the year and things are slowing down for me and getting easier," Duchene said.
Chris Stewart and Cumiskey both found the net in the second period as Colorado opened up a commanding 4-0 lead. Cumiskey's goal was an exhibition in textbook passing as he fed Paul Stastny down the left side of the ice. Stastny then gave it right back to Cumiskey, who shuffled the puck past goalie Jeff Deslauriers.
Stewart scored a goal in his third straight game. He also has 27 points in his last 26 contests.
Defenceman John-Michael Liles tied a career high with three points, including his fourth goal of the season.
It could've been an even more memorable night, too. Liles was originally credited with an assist on the last Avalanche goal, but it was changed to TJ Galiardi. Had it stood, Liles would have been the first Avalanche defenceman with four points in a game since Derek Morris on Nov. 11, 2003, at San Jose.
"Anytime you win it's a lot more fun," Liles said. "I think going through the season we did last year wasn't so much fun and you want to enjoy it when you win. ... We've been able to win and enjoy it."
NOTES: Avalanche F Marek Svatos sat out (bruised chest) and is considered day to day. ... Oilers C Gilbert Brule missed the game with the flu. ... The Avs were without one of their top scorers in Milan Hejduk, who is expected to miss two-to-four weeks because of a knee injury. Hejduk will undergo arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday. ... Avalanche D Ryan Wilson skated off the ice in the first period with a head injury and didn't return. ... Colorado is 7-0 in Monday games.