Skrastins plays in 486th consecutive game

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche defenseman Karlis Skrastins played his 486th straight game in a 5-4 victory over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night, tying him with Tim Horton for the longest consecutive games streak by a defenseman in NHL history.

Skrastins -- nicknamed "Scratch," but never is on game nights -- can break Horton's mark Thursday night at home against the Atlanta Thrashers.

The 32-year-old native of Riga, Latvia, began the run on Feb. 21, 2000, as a rookie with the Nashville Predators, who selected him with a ninth-round pick in the 1998 draft.

"He's a guy that really flies under the radar in terms of the attention he gets, but our team is very much aware of the contributions he makes each and every game," Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville said in a statement before the game against Florida. "He's very reliable, steady and consistent in the way he goes
about his game. As a coach, you love to have a guy like that."

Horton, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, played in 486 straight for the Toronto Maple Leafs from Feb. 11, 1961, to Feb. 4, 1968. The longest streak in NHL history is held by center Doug Jarvis, who played in 964 games in a row from 1975-88.

The Avalanche acquired Skrastins from Nashville in a trade on June 30, 2003, giving up future considerations.