Avalanche dampen Flames to seize Northwest lead

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DENVER (Reuters) - The Colorado Avalanche won the battle for top spot in the Northwest Division on Sunday, surviving a tense final period to hold off the Calgary Flames 3-2.

Rene Bourque set up a Mark Giordano powerplay goal to help the Flames (19-9-4) claw back to within one in the last period, but Colorado hung on for a deserved win after claiming a 35-21 shot advantage.

"Our line has jelled really well together and I think it's helped me gain some confidence," said the Avalanche's Wojtek Wolski, who scoring the game's first at 13.05 in the first period.

The 23-year-old Wolski also made an assist and leads the Avalanche with 13 goals, just one shy of his total for last season.

Team mate Chris Stewart followed with a goal at 9:17 in the second to put the Avalanche (19-10-6) 2-0 in front.

"The more we play with each other, it seems the more we seem to read off each other," Stewart, who also had an assist, told reporters when asked about the line of Wolski, Paul Stastny and himself.

"Those are two world-class players I'm with, big-name players, and they make the big plays."

Bourque cut the deficit to 2-1 at 10:34 in the second but Darcy Tucker broke a 17-game goal drought seven minutes later to restore Colorado's two-goal advantage.

Calgary netminder Miikka Kiprusoff had a busy night making 32 saves with Colorado outshooting the Flames 20-6 in the first period and enjoying five power plays.

"I think we were in the penalty box the whole first period," Flames captain Jarome Iginla said.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina. Editing by Patrick Johnston)