Avalanche 3, Flames 0

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DENVER (AP)—Peter Budaj is rewarding the Colorado Avalanche for their faith in him.

Budaj stopped 33 shots for his first career shutout and the Avalanche moved into first place in the Northwest Division with a 3-0 victory Sunday over the Calgary Flames.

Colorado traded veteran goaltender David Aebischer to Montreal for Jose Theodore last week and put Budaj in goal. The 24-year-old rookie has responded with two straight wins in the heat of a playoff race.

“Part of the decision in making the trade was that we trusted that Peter could take us down the stretch,” Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said. “Every time that he has gotten an opportunity, he has risen to it, and we expect him to do it again.”

The win moved Colorado a point ahead of the Flames. It was the first of back-to-back meetings between the two teams, which play again in Calgary on Monday.

“It is great when the coaching staff and the organization has the faith in you that you can get the job done,” Budaj said. “What I’m doing right now is working hard, and playing good hockey.”

Budaj made several acrobatic saves, including on Sean Donovan from in front of the crease.

“I just stayed with him as long as I could,” Budaj said. “I thought I had an even better one in the second period on Jarome Iginla because with him you have to be in the best position you can be against Iginla, a guy that can beat you so many ways.”

He got offensive production from the team’s top three offensive players. Joe Sakic and Alex Tanguay each had a goal and an assist. Milan Hejduk added a short-handed goal.

The loss denied Calgary coach Darryl Sutter his 400th career win. Ninety-eight have come with the Flames, who had won three of their previous four.

Goalie Miikka Kiprusoff had 22 saves for the Flames, who were 0-for-5 on the power play.

Tanguay’s power-play goal with 9.2 seconds left in the first period gave the Avalanche a 1-0 lead. Sakic waited patiently for Kiprusoff to drop to the ice before setting up Tanguay with a pass to the opposite side of the crease.

Sakic and Hejduk scored 3 minutes apart in the second period to extend Colorado’s lead to 3-0. Tanguay picked up a loose puck at center ice after leaving the penalty box and set up Sakic’s wrist shot from between the circles at 13:09. Hedjuk scored on a 2-on-1 rush with Brett Clark off for hooking.

“We played pretty well in the second period, but we were down 2-0, and that is hard to come back from late,” Sutter said. “Budaj made some big saves, but whenever a guy gets a shutout, he usually does.”

Calgary’s best scoring chance came with 9:52 left in the game and didn’t require Budaj to make a save. Sean Donovan hit the left post from 15 feet out, skated down the rebound, but sent the puck wide of the net.

“Budaj was tough on us, but it wasn’t like we didn’t have our chances,” Donovan said. “It just doesn’t seem like we play our game in this building.”

Notes

Tanguay’s first-period goal ended Kiprusoff’s scoreless streak at 111 minutes. … The Flames have allowed four short-handed goals this season. … Sakic became the 16th player in NHL history to reach 900 assists. … The Avalanche recorded their league-leading 82nd first-period goal. … Hejduk tied Peter Forsberg for fifth place on the franchise scoring list with his 216th goal.

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Three Stars

  Game Winning Goal
A. Tanguay A. Tanguay
Colorado Avalanche
Scored at 19:50 of 1st

Goaltending

Goalie Team Shot Save
Miikka Kiprusoff Cgy 25 22
Peter Budaj Wpg 33 33