SUN Hockey Pool

Happy Christmas, Joe

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:23 AM ET

Joe Sakic hadn't been doing much all game, didn't even have a shot on goal in the first 40 minutes, but guys of his ilk don't need many chances.

So when Igor Ulanov served up a beauty - a blind pass up the middle that hit the Avs captain right on the tape - you knew what was going to happen next.

Sakic put one of his patented wrist shots over Mike Morrison's shoulder and just like that the Avs stole two points from a game they had no business winning.

"Pretty surprised," said Sakic, when asked about the early Christmas gift. "I think he fanned on it."

Sakic said he probably should have been sealing off the boards instead of hovering near the slot, but it all worked out in the end.

"The play right now is taking away the boards," he said. "I might have been out of position, but I was very fortunate to be in that spot and get that opportunity."

So were the Avs.

"You don't deserve every one you win," said teammate Ian Laperriere. "But tonight we got the two points."

CAREER YEAR: Laperriere scored two first period goals yesterday, his ninth and 10th of the season. The former L.A. King, who signed as a free agent in the summer, leads the Avs in plus-minus and penalty minutes, is great in the room, and his 10 goals are second only to rookie sensation Marek Svatos. He's a great deal at $1.14 million.

"Sometimes change is good," he said. "So far it's been great to me. I like our room. You just do your job and that's all you have to worry about."

He's already closing in on his career high of 13 goals in a season, which he set some 11 years ago. But he's not thinking about that, nor was he thinking about the hat-trick after getting two in the first 20.

"I'm not that greedy," he laughed. "I'm not a goal scorer. I'm not fooling any one. I'm just in the right place at the right time," he said.

"That's what's great about this team. We don't care who scores."

CRASHING THE CREASE: At the end of a goalmouth scramble at the final buzzer, Avs goalie David Aebischer got up and popped Oilers defenceman Chris Pronger right in the yap. Seems he'd had enough of the Oilers in his crease and was going to vent his frustration on someone, and it just happened to be the six-foot-six rearguard.

"I had the puck ant got poke-checked in the fingers a couple of times and I guess that was to punch a little frustration out," said the soft-spoken keeper, who says he's seeing more traffic in the crease this year than ever before.

"Guys are better at it now because they don't get pushed around as much," he said. "They take a little bit more liberties. It makes our job a little bit tougher."

RED HOT ROOKIE: Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin are getting all the press, but Svatos is putting up numbers that are every bit at good.

He had 24 points, going into last night, just behind Crosby's 28 and Ovechkin's 25. He also leads the NHLwith six game-winning goals, but saw his seven-game point-scoring streak (five goals and five assists) come to an end in Edmonton.


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