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GAME: Anaheim Mighty Ducks at Colorado Avalanche.
PLAYOFF SERIES: Western Conference semifinals; Mighty Ducks lead 2-0.
TIME: Tuesday, 8 p.m. EDT.
Rookie goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov - an unknown entity before the start of the season and unheralded player at the outset of the playoffs - looks to extend his record scoreless streak and give the Anaheim Mighty Ducks a commanding 3-0 series lead as they play the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center.
Bryzgalov, who had made just two NHL appearances prior to the season, has been spectacular in the postseason and enters this game carrying an NHL playoff rookie record by not allowing a goal in 229 minutes and 42 seconds. His 3-0 shutout Sunday in Game 2 made him the first rookie goaltender to record three consecutive playoff shutouts since Frank McCool with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1945.
"It's not a big deal for me. It's fun because we won the game," understated Bryzgalov, who relieved an ineffective Jean-Sebastien Giguere in Game 5 of Anaheim's quarterfinal series with Calgary and has been stellar since.
Bryzgalov's streak is the fourth longest overall, and Montreal Canadiens netminder George Hainsworth established the record with a 270:08 stretch in 1930. Bryzgalov, who has not allowed a goal since Stephane Yelle scored 10:18 into the first period of Anaheim's 2-1 Game 6 quarterfinal win, joined Giguere as one of seven netminders to record three consecutive playoff shutouts.
"I don't even think he realizes," Ducks veteran right wing Teemu Selanne said of Bryzgalov knowing his place in history. "He's just a guy who goes out there and has fun and doesn't take any pressure or anything."
Bryzgalov, who has stopped 141 of 144 shots in the playoffs, has a 0.52 goals-against average and .979 save percentage. He has made 51 saves in the first two games of the series, including 22 Sunday.
Offensively, Joffrey Lupul has netted goals in both games for Anaheim, which totaled eight in the home wins.
The Avalanche concede that Bryzgalov played well in Anaheim, but the players also feel they haven't done much to get the Russian netminder out of his comfort zone. Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville spent most of practice Monday using a flood-the-ice drill that has players attacking the net from all angles at all times.
"He's played well, but I don't think we've tested him at the same rate we've tested goalies all year," Quenneville said. "We just haven't gotten a lot of traffic in front of him. ... We've got to get more quality chances and higher quality chances."
Veteran center Pierre Turgeon added that simple quality play will also help the Avalanche in their bid to end the goal-scoring drought.
"The game of hockey is doing the little things right," Turgeon said. "No turnovers. No 3-on-2s or 2-on-1s. Those are the little things that make a big difference. He's playing well but at the same time we've got to test him. We've got to focus on what we're supposed to do out there instead of thinking, 'He's good."'
Game 4 will be played in Denver Thursday.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Mighty Ducks - 98 points; 6th seed, defeated Calgary Flames 4-3 in quarterfinals. Avalanche - 95 points; 7th seed, defeated Dallas Stars 4-1 in quarterfinals.
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Mighty Ducks - Selanne, 4 goals and 9 points; Selanne and Francois Beauchemin, 5 assists; Lupul, 21 PIM. Avalanche - Andrew Brunette and Joe Sakic, 3 goals; Milan Hejduk, 5 assists; Brunette, Hejduk and Sakic, 7 points; Dan Hinote, 31 PIM.
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Mighty Ducks - Power play: 14.6 percent (8 for 55). Penalty killing: 88.9 percent (48 for 54). Avalanche - Power play: 12.8 percent (5 for 39). Penalty killing: 83.3 percent (35 for 42).
GOALTENDERS: Mighty Ducks - Bryzgalov (4-1, 3 SO, 0.52 GAA); Giguere (2-2, 0, 3.88). Avalanche - Jose Theodore (4-3, 0, 3.02); Peter Budaj (no appearances).
|May 05 '06||COL 0 at ANA 5|
|May 07 '06||COL 0 at ANA 3|
|May 09 '06||ANA 4 at COL 3 - OT|
|May 11 '06||ANA 4 at COL 1|