Joe Sakic will undergo hernia surgery today, putting the Colorado Avalanche captain out of action for up to 3 months.

Sakic has missed 12 games since Nov. 30. The operation will keep the 38-year-old center sidelined for 8 to 12 weeks.

"Joe's rehabilitation has not progressed as anticipated and upon further evaluation the decision has been made to perform surgery in order for him to fully recover," Avalanche team physician Andy Parker said in a statement released by the club.

Sakic, who has seven goals and 15 assists in 24 games this season, had played in 232 consecutive games before the injury, dating to Jan. 6, 2004.

"After consulting with the doctors we believe this procedure will enable me to return to the lineup," Sakic said in a statement.

Sakic, who has spent his entire 19-season NHL career with the Quebec/Colorado franchise, ranks eighth on the league's career points list with 1,611. He is 11th in assists (994) and 14th in goals (617).

In games last night:

* At Tampa, Fla., Andrei Markov and Andrei Kostitsyn scored 24 seconds apart early in the third period and the Montreal Canadiens beat the Lightning, 5-2. Maxim Lapierre, Guillaume Latendresse and Alex Kovalev also scored for the Canadiens, while Vinny Prospal and Jan Hlavac scored third-period goals for the slumping Lightning, who have lost eight of 10.

* At Pittsburgh, Sergei Gonchar scored 1:33 into overtime and the Penguins rallied to beat the Washington Capitals, 4-3. Sidney Crosby had two assists, giving him 17 points in 10 career games against Washington and Alexander Ovechkin, with nine of the games victories by the Penguins.

* At Atlanta, Nathan Horton scored two goals for the first time since last March to help the Florida Panthers beat the Thrashers, 5-3, ending Florida's 10-game losing streak in Atlanta. Ilya Kovalchuk scored his league-leading 30th and 31st goals in the third period for Atlanta.

* At Ottawa, Jason Spezza scored a power-play goal for his 300th NHL point and Dany Heatley had two assists to reach 50 points this season, leading the Senators to a 5-2 win over the New York Islanders. Daniel Alfredsson scored his 22nd goal for Ottawa, while Bill Guerin scored both Islanders' goals.

* At Nashville, Ville Koistinen's first NHL goal was the game-winner as the Predators edged the Columbus Blue Jackets, 4-3. Jason Arnott, Alexander Radulov and Jordin Tootoo also scored for Nashville.

* At Denver, Valteri Filppula scored two goals to lead the Detroit Red Wings to a 4-2 triumph over the Colorado Rockies.

* At Edmonton, Cherry Hill, N.J. native Bobby Ryan scored the game-winning goal early in the third period and the Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks took a 2-1 win over the Oilers. Corey Perry scored his 20th goal of the season for Anaheim.

* At Phoenix, Niklas Backstrom made 46 saves as the Minnesota Wild beat the Coyotes, 3-2. Eric Belanger, Joel Perreault and Brian Rolston each scored a power-play goal for the Wild, one in each period.

Noteworthy

* Avoiding the potential of a second embarrassing sexual harassment trial, Madison Square Garden settled a lawsuit with a former Rangers cheerleader who had accused executives of making unwanted advances. MSG and Courtney Prince, who was fired in January 2004, have announced a settlement of Prince's federal lawsuit. Identical statements released by the arena and by Prince, 29, said the matter had been resolved "with no admission of wrongdoing on the part of any party." Both sides declined further comment.

Prince, the former captain of the Rangers' cheerleading squad, said in her 2004 lawsuit that she was fired by the Garden after warning cheerleaders that at least one member of management was a sexual predator.

She said a member of management tried to kiss her and asked her to have sex with him after a postgame party in 2003, and that other executives made disparaging remarks about the sexual morals of a fellow skater. *