As early season games go, it was about as important as any for the Colorado Avalanche. And Valeri Kamensky and Peter Forsberg personally made sure they wouldn't lose.
Kamensky and Forsberg combined for seven points to lift the Avalanche to a 5-2 victory over the division rival Edmonton Oilers Friday night.
Kamensky scored a hat trick while Forsberg had a goal and three assists before 17,100 at the Skyreach Centre.
The victory denied the Oilers a perfect 5-0 record on their homestand but still left them 7-5-0 and on top of the Northwest Division, five points up on the last-place Avalanche (4-7-1).
But five points is better than nine, which is what the spread would have been had the Avalanche lost.
"(Nine points back) would have been really tough," Forsberg said. "You look at Edmonton's lineup, they have a good team and it's going to be hard to take five points from them."
It was Colorado's second victory in two meetings with the Oilers, who upset the Avalanche in last season's playoffs.
The win was also welcome relief for beleaguered Avalanche goaltender Patrick Roy, who gained just his second victory of the season against six losses. His only other victory this year came Oct. 24 against the Oilers in Denver.
He was shaky early on, allowing a 55-foot shot by Boris Mironov slip past him five minutes into the game.
"Tonight didn't start off the way I wanted but after that it went better," said Roy. "I have to give credit to the guys because they played extremely well.
"This is a good offensive team and we kept them to 21 shots."
Claude Lemieux scored the game-winner for the Avalanche, who play at Calgary Sunday. Andre Kovalenko also scored for the Oilers, who embark on a four-game road trip starting Sunday in Chicago.
Friday night's game was free-wheeling and free of fights, a stark contrast to the game in Denver, which featured 12 fighting majors.
After Mironov scored the game's first goal, the Avalanche roared back 15 seconds later when Kamensky took a centering pass from Forsberg and drilled it past Oilers goaltender Bob Essensa from the high slot.
Forsberg made it 2-1 when he walked out from the corner and fired the puck over Essensa's left shoulder.
The Oilers tied the game early in the second period on Kovalenko's goal before Lemieux redirected Kamensky's point shot on a 5-on-3 power play at 14:59.
Kamensky's two goals in the third period, one on the power play, clinched the win.
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