Tucker snuffs out Flames

Darcy Tucker scored his first goal in nearly two months, Craig Anderson stopped 19 shots and the Colorado Avalanche beat Calgary 3-2 on Sunday night to take over top spot in the Northwest Division.

Colorado Avalanche Paul Stastny

Avalanche 3 Flames 2

DENVER — Darcy Tucker scored his first goal in nearly two months, Craig Anderson stopped 19 shots and the Colorado Avalanche beat Calgary 3-2 on Sunday night to take over top spot in the Northwest Division.

Chris Stewart and Wojtek Wolski also scored for the Avalanche, who are 3-0 this season against the Flames.

Rene Bourque and Mark Giordano scored for Calgary. The Flames pulled Miikka Kiprusoff for an extra attacker with around a minute remaining, but couldn’t tie it.

Kiprusoff gave up three goals, the most he has allowed since surrendering six in a loss to Chicago on Nov. 19.

The Avalanche have won four of their last five to take a two-point lead over the Flames in the division.

Anderson, making his second start since returning from a neck ailment, was solid in net all night. He made his best save in the second period, stuffing Dustin Boyd on a breakaway chance.

Stewart’s goal midway through the second period staked the Avalanche a 2-0 lead. But Bourque quickly trimmed the deficit, scoring his ninth goal of the season just 1:17 later.

Just before the end of the second period, though, Tucker rammed in a shot near the goal crease.

The goal was originally credited to TJ Galiardi, but an overhead view showed the puck had already trickled into the net before Galiardi touched it.

It was Tucker’s first goal since Oct. 21 at Minnesota. The forward missed eight games because of a concussion after he was ridden into the boards by Carolina’s Tuomo Ruutu on Oct. 23.

The Avalanche took advantage of a 5-on-3 opportunity midway through the first period, scoring on Wolski’s shot through the legs of Kiprusoff. Wolski has recorded a point in 13 of his last 15 games.

The first period featured plenty of hard checks, sprawling saves and fisticuffs.

David Koci and Brian McGrattan squared off not even two minutes into the game, dropping their gloves and landing several blows before being separated and sent to the penalty box.

Later, Jarome Iginla and Cody McLeod got tangled up near the Calgary goal.

They grabbed the other’s jersey and fell down and were quickly separated.

Colorado was without right wingers Milan Hejduk (knee) and Marek Svatos (groin). Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said at the morning skatearound that both players are day-to-day.

Hejduk has missed five games this season, two due to a balky back and three more with a knee ailment. He has 12 goals and eight assists.

Former University of Minnesota star Ryan Stoa made his NHL debut a day after getting called up from the Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL.

Notes: There was a sparse crowd on hand for the game between two of the top teams in the Western Conference. … Avs D John-Michael Liles was struck in the head by a slapshot in the second period, momentarily staying down before skating off and then eventually returning. The puck bounded over the protective netting behind the goal and travelled 20 rows up in to the stands. … This was just the Flames’ fourth loss in regulation on the road this season. They are now 11-4-3.

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