Avs snap three-game skid to take control of Northwest Division

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) -- The Colorado Avalanche played one of their best road games this season and took over first place in the tight Northwest Division.

Marek Svatos scored the go-ahead goal in the second period, and Colorado snapped a three-game skid by beating the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 Thursday night.

Karlis Skrastins and Milan Hejduk also scored for the Avalanche, who ended a four-game road losing streak and improved to 3-7-1 away from home.

"We salvaged the trip with one game," Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said. "It was disappointing up to today's game with three tough losses and two really poor performances.

"But we still had first place on the line going into this game and it was a real motivator for us. We started the trip in first and we were able to get back there."

The Avalanche moved a point ahead of Minnesota and Vancouver in the division.

Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky had goals for Edmonton, which has lost three of four on a season-long six-game homestand.

"We couldn't defend them without taking the penalties," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. "We took eight penalties. Some of those penalties were [inexplicable] to be taking this late in the season.

"We also had a [season] high number of turnovers tonight. You can't be turning the puck over like that."

Svatos put the Avalanche ahead for the third time midway through the second period. He picked up his own rebound and appeared to direct the puck in with his skate, but a video review showed he was able to touch the puck with his stick just as it was crossing the goal line.

"I was pretty confident it would count, but you never know what the results are going to be when they go upstairs," Svatos said.

Quenneville wasn't worried, either.

"When I saw him kick it, I knew it was going wide and he had to have done something for it to go in," the coach said. "He's got those quick little hands around the net and can score those kind of goals."

Colorado scored 6:43 in when ex-Oiler Ryan Smyth picked up a loose puck and directed it to Skrastins, who beat Mathieu Garon for his first goal this season.

"It wasn't the road trip we wanted, but at least we finished it off on a good note," Smyth said. "We have been playing very well at home so we want to continue that as we carry forward the momentum from this game."

The Oilers tied it on a power play when Horcoff wristed a shot through Peter Budaj from the side of the net.

Colorado regained the lead in the second. John-Michael Liles' point shot was tipped in by Hejduk 4 seconds after a penalty to Garon expired.

The Oilers struck back 36 seconds later when Horcoff connected on a cross-ice pass to Hemsky and he slapped a one-timer past Budaj to tie it at 2.

"I'd like to have that one back," said Budaj, who made 14 saves for the win. "I just didn't push across hard enough. Even though they didn't have many shots, I would like to be able to do that one over."

Edmonton had only two second-period shots to Colorado's 16 and was behind 23-9 in shots after 40 minutes.

Game notes
Garon was in net for the fifth time in the last six games ahead of usual starter Dwayne Roloson. ... The Oilers finally got some good news on the injury front as defenseman Joni Pitkanen returned to the lineup. He had missed 13 games with a knee injury. ... It was Smyth's second return to Edmonton. In the previous two games, he was held without a point and was minus-3.