Sakic collects two goals, two assists

DENVER (AP) -- The Colorado Avalanche are glad Radim Vrbata
didn't follow his first instinct when he got the puck in overtime.

Vrbata looked to pass, but with his teammates covered he decided
to shoot and scored a power-play goal 1:52 into the extra period as
the Colorado Avalanche snapped a two-game losing streak with a 7-6
victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night.

"I was just waiting for someone to get open and with a
four-on-three advantage, you have a little bit more time to find
someone,'' Vrbata said. "They played everyone well and when nobody
was open I took the shot.''

Colorado's Steve Reinprecht had tied the game in final two
minutes of regulation, and Joe Sakic added two goals, Nos. 498 and
499 of his career, and added two assists.

Milan Hejduk had a goal and an assist on the seventh anniversary
of the trade that sent goaltender Patrick Roy along with Mike Keane
to Colorado in exchange for Jocelyn Thibault, Martin Rucinsky and
Andre Kovalenko.

Doug Gilmour had a goal and two assists for Montreal, which is
winless in its last four games and winless in six games played in
Denver (0-4-1-1).

Montreal had killed seven previous power plays when Saku Koivu
was sent off for slashing at the end of regulation. The power play
carried over into overtime.

Vrbata sent a shot through a crowded crease and past Canadiens
goaltender Jose Theodore.

"We found a way to win,'' Colorado coach Bob Hartley said.
"There were great chances on both sides, but the bottom line was
that we got the tying goal late in the game and scored on the power

In the final minutes of regulation, the Avalanche pulled Roy in
favor of a sixth skater, and Reinprecht poked the puck under
Theodore's glove with 1:16 remaining.

"It was a great decision by Bob (Hartley) to pull me in and put
a sixth guy on the ice,'' Roy said. "And Rhino scored a big goal
for us.''

Gilmour scored on a shot off Randy McKay's leg a minute earlier
to give Montreal a 6-5 lead.

Sakic sent a wrist shot past Theodore at 6:41 of the third
period to tie the game at 5-5.

"You better win the game when you score six goals on Patrick
Roy, and we didn't,'' Montreal coach Michel Therrien said. "We
moved the puck well and did a great job of killing penalties and
still couldn't win.''

Montreal scored four goals on 11 shots in the second period to
take a 5-4 lead.

Andreas Dackell and Mike Ribero scored 24 seconds apart to put
the Canadiens ahead 3-2, but Dean McAmmond tied it at 3-all at 6:15
on his first goal with Colorado.

Montreal regained the lead at 7:21 when Chad Kilger flipped the
puck over Roy's left shoulder, but Hejduk matched it with a
wraparound goal at 13:16. The Canadiens took the lead on Stephane
Quintal's one-timer, off a pass from Joe Juneau, at 16:29.

"It looked like my goal would turn things for a little bit, but
they came back,'' Quintal said. "You make a little mistake and
guys like Sakic, Hejduk, Forsberg are going to put the puck in the

The Avalanche led 2-1 after one period on Skoula's second goal
of the year. Skoula sent a slap shot from the slot through a screen
past Theodore.

Sakic and Martin Skoula had first-period goals to give Colorado
a 2-1 lead. Andrei Markov tied it with a power-play goal at 17:14,
converting a pass from Gilmour.

Game notes
Montreal played in Denver for the first time in three
seasons. ... Saku Koivu and Peter Forsberg exchanged elbows after
the first period, but weren't penalized. ... Colorado placed
defenseman Adam Foote on the injured reserve retroactive to Dec. 3
with a strained groin. ... Winger Brad Larsen was sent to
Colorado's AHL affiliate in Hershey for a three-game conditioning