Forsberg ties career-high with five assists

DENVER (AP) -- Alex Tanguay says he is the same player who
couldn't buy a goal earlier in the season. The stats don't agree.

Tanguay stayed hot with his first career hat trick and the
Colorado Avalanche clinched a playoff spot by routing the Chicago
Blackhawks 8-1 Saturday.

"I don't know the difference," said Tanguay, who went 16 games
in late November and early December without a goal. "I'm still
working as hard as I have been all year and now they are going

Tanguay, who has 20 goals and 33 assists in his last 44 games,
scored twice in the second period, when Colorado had five goals.
Rob Blake, Adam Foote and Stephen Reinprecht added second-period

"Confidence goes a long way in any sport, and in the first 15
or 20 games Alex was squeezing the stick," Colorado coach Tony
Granato said. "I think as soon as we put him together with Peter
(Forsberg) and Milan (Hejduk) and a goal went in for him, he
started to relax and believe in himself again."

Tanguay agreed.

"Peter is a factor. He's playing as well as I've seen him play
and it rubs off," he said.

Forsberg had a career-high five assists for the Avalanche, who
moved within four points of idle Vancouver for the lead in the
Northwest Division. The Avs have made the playoffs every season
since moving to Denver for the 1995-96 season. They also made the
playoffs in their final year in Quebec.

Patrick Roy stopped 22 shots in two periods to improve to
30-14-12, his 13th 30-win season and eighth consecutive year with
at least that many victories. Granato replaced Roy with David
Aebischer for the third period.

"Tony came to me, and we talked about it," Roy said. "We both
agreed it was OK to give a little action to Abby."

The Avalanche completed a four-game season sweep of Chicago.

Jason Strudwick had the lone goal for Chicago. Craig Andersson
gave up five goals in his second career start for the Blackhawks,
then Steve Passmore came on.

Leading 1-0, Blake, Foote and Reinprecht scored 2:51 apart early
in the second period. Blake converted a cross-ice pass from Joe
Sakic; Foote buried a shot from the slot after taking a no-look
pass from Forsberg; and Reinprecht converted a pass for Sakic.

Tanguay took Forsberg's pass from behind the net to beat
Andersson, who was without a stick.

"The way I see it, a goalie has to roll with the punches,"
Andersson said. "I'm not the first or the last guy that those guys
scored on."

After Strudwick scored on a rebound for Chicago, Tanguay sent a
shot between Passmore's pads for his third goal of the game.

"They got their chances and they put them in the net," Chicago
coach Brian Sutter said of the second period. "It wasn't like they
had 50 shots and played 90 percent of the period in our end of the

Milan Hejduk and Serge Aubin had third-period goals for

The Avs took a 1-0 lead on Tanguay's first goal after Forsberg
skated down a loose puck along the boards and fed defensemen Derek
Morris in the slot. Morris passed to Tanguay in the right circle
and Tanguay sent a wrist shot over Andersson's glove.

Steve Poapst nearly tied it two minutes later when his shot from
the right point hit the goalpost and caromed off the back of Roy.

Roy reached back at the last minute the catch the puck.

Game notes
Blackhawks goaltender Jocelyn Thibault (post concussion
syndrome) will be re-evaluated in a week. ... Andersson denied
shorthanded chances by Jeff Shantz and Eric Messier with glove
saves in the first period. ... The Blackhawks are 1-7-1-0 in their
last nine games in Denver. ... Chicago's Chris Simon and Avalanche
Scott Parker exchanged punches in the second period. ... Morris had
three assists to give him a career-high 32 for the year. ... Hejduk
reached a career high with his 42nd goal. ... The Avalanche have
killed 15 consecutive penalties over five games.