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Avs Celebrate New Year's With 5-2 Win At Phoenix

Saturday, 12.31.2005 / 12:00 AM / News
Colorado Avalanche
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Ian Laperriere thought hard work was all Colorado needed to get out of a slump. He was right.

Laperriere sparked the Western Conference's most productive offense with two goals, and rookie Peter Budaj had a much-needed solid game in goal, leading the Avalanche to a 5-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night.

"It's not like we've been playing bad for the last month, but we didn't put in an effort like we did tonight for 60 minutes, and it's great to see," said Laperriere, who left Los Angeles after eight seasons to sign with Colorado in July 2004. "We just put the working boots on."

Pierre Turgeon, Milan Hejduk and Andrew Brunette also scored for the Avalanche, who won for only the fourth time in 11 games. Their last victory was a 7-4 win over Phoenix on Monday night.

Budaj, pulled in the first period Wednesday night in a loss in Colorado after allowing two goals in four shots, had 30 saves. This time, his only failures were on shots by Geoff Sanderson and Denis Gauthier.

"They don't try to put too much pressure on me, because it's not healthy," Budaj said. "But I was lucky a couple of times, and the team played really good in front of me, and it's a credit to them."

Sanderson's power-play goal cut Colorado's lead to 4-2 with 6:27 left in the game.

But Brunette, who also had an assist, answered with 3:25 to go, tucking Joe Sakic's pass to the edge of the crease past Curtis Joseph.

The Avalanche, who never trailed, broke open a 2-1 game with two goals in the first 3:44 of the third period.

Turgeon tipped a slap shot by Blake 1:33 in, converting 24 seconds into a power play that came about when the Coyotes' Oleg Saprykin stepped on a stick and was penalized for tripping.

"Blake takes a nice shot, and I think that changed the momentum of the hockey game," Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. "We just couldn't find our way back into it."

Laperriere went to one knee for a slapper in the slot, beating Joseph low to the right side for insurance.

"I thought we had a tremendous game," coach Joel Quenneville said about the Avalanche's improvement to 2-5 in the second game of back-to-backs. "It was a real good response to a bad performance last night. All of the areas of our game were rock-solid."

Joseph, a surprise starter after allowing 22 goals in six previous games, had 23 saves.

Budaj started over former No. 1 David Aebischer for the fourth time in six games Quenneville continued to tinker with a position that had allowed 135 goals, second-worst in the West.

Budaj was tested quickly, stopping Ladislav Nagy not long after Phoenix's Mike Comrie and Brett McLean got into a fight on the opening faceoff. But Joseph wasn't as fortunate on Colorado's first shot - a drive from above the circle by Rob Blake.

The rebound went to Brunette, who scooped it across the crease to Hejduk for an easy shot past Joseph's stick 5:17 in and 50 seconds into the Avs' first power play.

Colorado went ahead 2-0 with a similar goal. Antti Laaksonen went to the boards after a faceoff and got the puck to Brett McLean, who centered it to Laperriere for the goal with 8:31 left in the second period.

Phoenix was quick to answer, Gauthier redirecting Mike Johnson's slap shot past Budaj 47 seconds later.

"We had to play catch-up all night, and they did a good job of shutting down all of us offensively," Sanderson said. "We didn't get many chances."

Notes: Laperriere's goals gave him 13, tying his career-high set in 1994-95 as a rookie with St. Louis. ... The game started off chippy. In addition to McLean-Comrie, former Coyotes player Brad May fought with Tim Jackman in the first period. ... Colorado D Patrice Brisebois was scratched before the game with a back injury. ... Blake, McLean and Alex Tanguay had two assists each for Colorado. ... The Avs have a West-leading 149 goals in 40 games.

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