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Avs Double Up Coyotes 4-2

The Colorado Avalanche scratched five of their top players _ and still came away with a victory.

Peter Forsberg, a Swedish star returning from the Olympics, scored a shorthanded goal and added an assist as the Avalanche beat the Phoenix Coyotes 4-2 on Wednesday night.

"I think you're always cautious about how your team is going to be," said Colorado coach Marc Crawford, whose squad is 14-5-7 since Dec. 13. "But we haven't changed how we play. We play a very simple game."

Uwe Krupp scored his first goal in two months, and Sandis Ozolinsh and Claude Lemieux added goals as Colorado won for the sixth time in seven games to pull ahead of Detroit for second place in the Western Conference.

Even though Crawford, Canada's Olympic coach, sat many Olympic participants, Forsberg said he didn't believe he has a problem with fatigue.

"I had six days off," said Forsberg, whose shorthanded goal at 8:05 of the second period tied it at 2. "It might show at first, but after a couple or two weeks I don't think it will show at all."

Goalie Patrick Roy and the others most likely will return Thursday night when Colorado plays Phoenix, 1-3-3 in its last seven games, in the second game of the home-and-home series.

Keith Tkachuk and Jeremy Roenick scored for the Coyotes, 0-5-1 against Colorado since moving from Winnipeg before the 1996-97 season.

Craig Billington, starting in place of Roy, made 29 saves to extend his personal unbeaten streak to seven games at 4-0-3.

Ozolinsh opened the scoring 19 seconds into the game when he slipped a quick wrist shot over Nikolai Khabibulin's glove hand.

"That was unfortunate," Roenick said. "There were a couple of bounces that went their way."

Phoenix responded at 3:07 of the period when Roenick stole the puck near the Colorado blue line and blasted a shot from the high slot past Billington.

Tkachuk followed less than three minutes later when he scored a power-play goal off a rebound of a shot by Craig Janney.

Tkachuk's goal, his 36th, was the only score in eight power-play opportunities for Phoenix, which is 3-for-24 on the power play over its last three games.

Forsberg tied the game when he gained control of a loose puck near center ice and skated untouched to the crease for his second shorthanded goal of the season.

Lemieux added a power-play goal with 8:39 to play. Khabibulin made a skate save of Forsberg's shot on the goal line, but Lemieux skated in and nudged the puck across the line for the Avalanche's 11th power-play goal in their last 50 opportunities.

"It was a situation where individual breakdowns, losing some one-on-one battles, turned into goals for them," Phoenix coach Jim Schoenfeld said. "But we fought hard."

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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