After a stellar performance by Peter Budaj, the Colorado Avalanche hope to get some more solid goaltending Thursday when they open a three-game road trip with the first of two straight contests against the Calgary Flames.
Budaj made 39 saves Tuesday and Milan Hejduk and Paul Stastny scored as the Avalanche (27-25-4) defeated Anaheim 2-0. It was the first time in three games the Avs had a starting goaltender finish the game.
“We can’t get too high,” Budaj said. “We’ve got to build on that.”
It was Budaj’s fourth career shutout and second of the season, but came after he was pulled Sunday, when he allowed four goals in 26 minutes of a 7-5 loss at Dallas—the Avs’ third consecutive road defeat.
Backup Jose Theodore did not fare well in Colorado’s contest last Thursday, surrendering three goals on 11 shots in the first period of a 6-3 loss to Atlanta.
“When you get strong goaltending like that your chances of winning are enhanced tremendously,” Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said after Tuesday’s victory. “There was a little frustration built up after the last few games, and I think we had a nice approach to our overall game.”
Budaj went 7-2-2 with a 2.77 goals-against average in 11 starts in January, but is 1-3-0 with a 3.20 GAA in five games—including four starts—this month. Theodore, the opening night starter for the Avs, is 10-12-1 with a 3.30 GAA in 27 games.
Colorado hopes Budaj can build on Tuesday’s performance and help the Avs climb out of last in the Northwest Division, where they trail fourth-place Edmonton by two points.
Budaj, though, has lost his last three games against Calgary, posting a 6.29 GAA and being pulled in his last two starts. He was replaced after allowing five goals in 32 minutes of a 7-3 loss to the Flames on Jan. 11.
The Avs have dropped five in a row to the Flames (30-19-8), with four of the losses coming at the Pengrowth Saddledome. Colorado has been outscored 22-11 in losing five straight in Calgary since a 2-1 win on Dec. 31, 2003.
Calgary looks to continue that trend after it halted a season high-tying four-game losing streak on Tuesday with a 4-1 win over the Thrashers. The Flames scored three first-period power-play goals, including two by Daymond Langkow.
“Special teams can win you games and tonight was a prime example,” said Langkow, whose 24 goals are three shy of his career high set in 2001-02 with Phoenix. “We come out and get three power-play goals right off the bat and we rolled from there.”
The win came after the Flames dropped all three games on their road trip, including a 7-4 loss to Detroit in the finale on Sunday.
“It was a real tough road trip for us, especially our last game where we didn’t show up—period,” said Flames captain Jarome Iginla, who had three points Tuesday. “As a group of forwards, when we went on the road, we weren’t skating enough. Tonight, we were ready.”
Calgary hosts Colorado again on Saturday before the Avs close out their trip in Vancouver on Sunday. The Flames then visit Colorado on Tuesday night.