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NHL Jackets suffer 5-1 loss



Published: Mon, March 17, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Joe Sakic's 12th career hat trick led Colorado to the victory.

COLUMBUS (AP) -- The biggest debate was whether there were more hats on the ice than Joe Sakic had goals.

A few hats filtered down after Sakic scored his 12th career hat trick, all three goals coming in the first period of the Colorado Avalanche's 5-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.

"It was five or six," Sakic said with a grin when asked how many hats were on the ice. "There were two over by the bench and a couple of others -- late arrivals."

Sakic appears to be arriving just in time for the Avalanche's playoff push. After missing 15 games with a broken foot, he has spent most of his nine games back trying to find the range offensively.

"I've had some chances but haven't been able to find the net," said Sakic, who played on the same line with Steve Reinprecht and the recently acquired Bates Battaglia. "Tonight everything went in."

Sakic has one four-goal game and 11 three-goal performances in his 15 years in the NHL.

"Joe was unbelievable," said Reinprecht, who assisted on all three goals. "He was skating with ease and he really had his sights set out there. It was his night."

Avalanche on hot streak

Colorado has won 19 of its last 25 games overall.

"We played simple. We took care of our end first. And, obviously, Joe had a great night shooting the puck," Avalanche coach Tony Granato said. "I don't know if there's any goalie in the league that can stop those shots."

Patrick Roy had 20 saves as the Avalanche moved to 11-0-1-0 in the series with Columbus. Greg de Vries and Milan Hejduk each had a goal and an assist.

David Ling scored his second goal of the year for the Blue Jackets, who have lost their last four games and are just 2-10-1-1 in the last 14.

Sakic's three goals came in a span of 10:17.

"The last few weeks I've felt I've gotten a lot of chances but haven't done anything with them," Sakic said. "It was good to get that first one in -- then the second and the third."




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