By Derek Nagy
PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
DENVER (Ticker) -- Wojtek Wolski scored a pair of goals off
rebounds in the first period and Marek Svatos had three assists
as the Colorado Avalanche held on to record a 4-3 victory over
the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.
Wolski's performance led the Avalanche to the win despite the
absence of captain Joe Sakic, who was scratched with a back
injury. He is out indefinitely.
"It's really hard, you have to kind of control the rebounds, so
I just tried to get my stick on it," Wolski said of his two
Colorado built a 3-0 lead in the first period and a 4-1
advantage in the third before Tampa Bay made it interesting,
scoring a pair of goals late in the third session to cut
Colorado's lead to just one goal. The Lightning have lost four
in a row.
"There's some individuals that, every loose puck they lose,
they're not going to the net. Almost like some guys are
collecting a paycheck right now and that's a sad statement. We
have to face reality," Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said.
Andrew Raycroft started for the Avalanche for the first time
since October 30 and had 17 saves and improved to 3-1 this
"We've got to climb up the ladder and we've won two of the last
three. We're going in the right direction, we have a lot of
injuries and guys are stepping up," Raycroft said.
Colorado has alternated wins and losses in each of its last five
Defenseman Jordan Leopold gave the Avalanche an early 1-0 lead.
Svatos got open with the puck in the middle of the ice, split
two Tampa Bay defenders and put a pass right on the stick of
Leopold, who faked right and put a wrister past Olaf Kolzig.
Wolski's first goal of the night came after Svatos won the
faceoff and skated into the crease. He fired a shot that Kolzig
stopped with his skate, but the rebound came right to Wolski who
buried the second chance to give the Avalanche a 2-0 lead.
He tallied again just over 90 seconds later. Svatos again put a
shot that Kolzig initially stopped, but the rebound kicked right
to Wolski, who put a shot back on net and barely slid the puck
along the goal line and into the far post.
"We came prepared and we threw the puck at the net and the
goalie gave us a few rebound chances. We've got guys who can
score goals and we did that in the first period," Svatos said.
Tampa Bay got on the board on a goal by captain Vincent
Lecavalier, his team-leading 10th of the season. Ryan Malone
and Steven Stamkos both scored on the power play in the third as
the Lightning's comeback fell short.
Mike Smith started the second period in net after Kolzig allowed
those three first-period goals.
"It's evident that we're struggling, especially in trying to
find ways to win hockey games," Smith said. "The little plays
in games mean so much, and tonight we didn't do a lot of those
plays very well."