Colorado Avalanche Joe Sakic holds his 600th career NHL goal puck. (CP PHOTO/Jeff McIntosh)
Sakic scored twice, including his 600th career goal into an empty net, and added three assists to lead the Colorado Avalanche to a 7-5 win over the Calgary Flames on Thursday night. Sakic became the 17th player in NHL history to record the 600-goal plateau. He joins Brendan Shanahan and Jaromir Jagr, who both achieved the milestone earlier this year with the New York Rangers.
"The opportunity was there and it's not something that you'd write up, but I'll take it any way I can," Sakic said. "The most important thing is getting the win.
"We needed it really bad."
Milan Hejduk had three goals for the Avalanche (28-25-4), which has won two straight. Andrew Brunette added a goal and an assist while Brett Clark had the other.
Afterwards, Hejduk had nothing but praise for the Avalanche captain.
"For me, it's definitely a number that I'm never going to reach," Hejduk said. "For Joe, it's just another number in his great hockey career."
Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said it was only fitting that Sakic came up big in a game the Avalanche needed.
"Everything about Joe's contribution to our team tonight was special and it was probably our most exciting win of the year," Quenneville said. "Joe's tenacity and desire to win and elevate our team into a playoff position is what's foremost in his mind and this was a good example that you get rewarded when you do things like that."
Colorado and Calgary will meet again Saturday night at the Pengrowth Saddledome before the Avs head to Vancouver on Sunday. But the Flames will be in Denver on Tuesday night.
"It's a great win for us and we've got to find a way to win another one Saturday," said Sakic, whose squad still remains last in the Northwest Division. "We're still in our same spot.
"We're chasing and we've got to get points."
Jarome Iginla and Matthew Lombardi had two goals each for Calgary (30-20-8) while Craig Conroy finished with a goal and an assist. Former Avalanche Alex Tanguay added three assists.
Calgary netminder Miikka Kiprusoff made 28 saves but wasn't pleased with his performance.
"I'm not happy how I played," Kiprusoff said. "I have to learn from this to be better next game.
"There's 20-some games left and it's so close. We need the points."
Iginla opened the scoring at 9:48 of the first period, blasting a pass from Tanguay past Colorado goalie Peter Budaj. Conroy made it 2-0 at 11:57 when his shot to the top corner beat Budaj on the short side.
Sakic cut Calgary's lead to 2-1 with 20.3 seconds left in the period. He converted a Brunette pass, beating Kiprusoff on the power play.
Sakic then returned the favour by setting up Brunette for his 20th goal of the season at 5:47 of the second to make it 2-2. But the Flames again took a two-goal lead on goals from Lombardi and Iginla.
"When you have a two-goal lead twice at home, those are games you have to have," Iginla said. "That's on us but you have to give them credit that they came back in the second . . . and got themselves back in it."
Iginla's goal, his 27th of the season, chased Budaj, who was replaced by Jose Theodore after stopping 16 of 20 shots. The move seemed to spark Hejduk, who scored on the power play, then at even strength in the period to tie the score once again.
Clark scored on a slapshot in the third that just got past Kiprusoff before defenceman Rhett Warrener could clear it away. Originally, the play was allowed to continue, but after a video replay, the goal stood.
Lombardi scored his second of the game and 18th of the season to make it 5-5 before Hejduk tipped a Ken Klee point shot past Kiprusoff to put the Avalanche ahead for good.
NOTES: These teams meet again here Saturday night, then Tuesday night in Denver . . . Colorado's Karlis Skrastins appeared in his 490th consecutive game, the longest streak by a defenceman in NHL history . . . Hejduk extended his scoring streak (five goals, four assists) to five games, including three straight multi-point contests . . . Sakic now has a six-game point streak (five goals, eight assists).