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Publish Date: 10/26/2005

From left: Colorado Avalanche left winger Steve Konawalchuk joins his teammates after Patrice Brisbois’ goal put the Avs ahead in the third period Tuesday night.AP/David Zalubowski

Late goal lifts Avalanche
Colorado regains its home edge

DENVER — Patrice Brisebois probably doesn’t send his wife an anniversary card every month, drive past his boyhood home or keep seashells from tropical vacations.

The Colorado Avalanche defenseman isn’t given into sentimentality easily, which is why he didn’t scoop up the puck after Tuesday’s 5-3 win over Edmonton.

He had every reason to do so. Brisebois played in his 800th career game. He celebrated by scoring the game winner with 49 seconds left. It wasn’t enough to make him contemplative.

“I keep it up here,” Brisebois said, pointing to his head.

The Avs might want to keep the puck. It could be a lucky charm. Before Brisebois goal, the Avs were in danger of losing at home for the fourth time in five games — this time to a Northwest Division rival.

“We just didn’t want to see the same thing happen that did last week,” said Alex Tanguay, referring to home losses to Los Angeles, Chicago and Edmonton. “It’s an important week and an important win for us.”

The Avs have stressed the importance of these games. Tuesday’s marked the third of five straight games against Edmonton and Vancouver, games that will have a big impact on how the division shakes out in April.

Things weren’t shaking out well for the Avs in the third period. After taking a 2-0 lead on goals by Antii Laaksonen and Wojtek Wolski early in the second, Colorado watched Edmonton come back. Marc-Andre Bergeron scored to make it 2-1, and Laaksonen, frustrated that offsides wasn’t called on that sequence, smacked the puck down the ice. He took an unsportsmanlike-conduct minor, and Raffi Torres scored on the ensuing power play.

“He could have let it go and given me a warning, but I guess he wanted to call penalties tonight,” said Laaksonen, referring to referee Kelly Sutherland. “It was a dumb penalty by me, and I was a little frustrated. I don’t think it will happen again.”

The game stayed tied until Torres flipped a backhand past David Aebischer 4 minutes, 12 seconds into the third.

Even though they were down, 3-2, the Avs felt confident.

“I thought we were more focused after that,” Laaksonen said. “I’m not saying we needed that, but it woke us up and we started playing better and started putting pucks on the net.”

The strategy paid off when Tanguay was credited with the tying goal when Radek Dvorak knocked the puck past his own goalie, Jussi Markkanen, with 6:15 left.

“It was positive that we kept pushing,” said Aebischer, who beat Edmonton for the second time in five days. “On the third goal we got lucky, but I guess we deserved it.”

Oilers coach Craig MacTavish was upset at his team’s mental lapses.

“We have a 3-2 lead with six minutes to go and we lose the game 5-3,” said MacTavish, whose team has lost seven straight. “By the same stupid mistakes we’ve been making time and time again. Junior-league player mentality.”

Overtime seemed inevitable when Brisebois blasted a shot from just inside the blueline to make it 4-3. Steve Konowalchuk got an insurance goal 20 seconds later.

“The coaches have been telling us to keep putting pucks at the net because you never know what can happen, a deflection or hit a skate,” Brisebois said. “That’s what I tried to do.”

Nothing sentimental about that.

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