|DAL||0||0||1||(null - null)||1|
|COL||2||0||1||(null - null)||3|
DENVER (AP) _ Colorado's goalie turned away shot after shot, held up saves in his opponents' faces and heard the home crowd chant his name.
Patrick Roy? No. It's David Aebischer.
Looking a lot like his mentor, Aebischer stopped 37 shots in his first playoff start to help the Avalanche open the playoffs with a 3-1 victory over the Dallas Stars on Wednesday night.
``He kept us in the game,'' Avalanche center Peter Forsberg said. ``They had a lot of power plays (0-for-5) and he made some unbelievable saves. It was great to see him play like that.''
Forsberg, Alex Tanguay and Joe Sakic scored for Colorado, which will host Game 2 Friday night.
It proved to be more than enough offense for Aebischer.
After spending three seasons as Roy's backup, Aebischer was supposed to be the big question mark in a season that started with Colorado adding scorers Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya on the same day.
Aebischer turned out to be Colorado's most consistent player, finishing the season with 32 wins and a 2.09 goals-against average.
But once the playoffs arrived, the questions started again. After all, Aebischer's playoff experience amounted to 35 minutes of mop-up duty in two games.
But in all that time behind Roy, Aebischer was watching and learning. He was there when Roy won the last of his four Stanley Cup titles in 2001, and saw how Roy handled himself after giving up six goals in Game 7 of the 2002 Western Conference finals.
It rubbed off, if just for one game.
Aebischer faced just six shots in the first period against Dallas, but kept his composure _ a lot like Roy _ when the Stars picked up the pressure.
Aebischer blocked one shot through traffic on a power play midway through the second period, then stuffed Jason Arnott from the edge of the crease with a sprawling save that led to a chant of ``Abby! Abby!'' from the crowd.
He ended the period by stopping Jere Lehtinen, as the horn sounded, after his stick went flying into the corner.
Aebischer was even better in the third period by making 20 saves, including one with his stick after a shot bounced over his head toward the post and another with his glove that he held up in Bill Guerin's face.
``I was a little bit more nervous than usual, but after the puck dropped it went away and I felt pretty good,'' Aebischer said.
The defensive-minded Stars were sluggish on both ends early, giving up two goals in the first nine minutes. Dallas picked up the pace with 32 shots the final two periods, but couldn't beat Aebischer until Niko Kapanen's wrister trickled through his pads with 6:30 left.
``It probably wasn't the start we wanted,'' said Stars goalie Marty Turco, who faced 25 shots. ``Certainly the strong push to finish, the hunger at the end was there. It was a great lesson for us.''
The Avalanche were hoping the start of the playoffs would produce some sort of spark after they ended the regular season with two wins in 10 games.
It sure did.
Colorado was crisp from the start, with numerous good scoring chances early and tight checking at the blue line. The Avalanche outshot Dallas 15-6 in the first period and had two goals in their first seven shots.
``We had good energy to start the game,'' Avalanche coach Tony Granato said. ``We skated extremely well and we were able to get a couple.''
Forsberg opened the scoring 6:14 in, slipping a rebound between Turco's pads after tipping Rob Blake's shot from the right boards. Marek Svatos set it up with a cross-ice pass through traffic that had the Stars scrambling to get back in position.
Tanguay made it 2-0 just over two minutes later when his centering pass from the left dot hit diving Dallas defenseman Teppo Numminen and caromed past Turco.
``Just a couple of unfortunate bounces and it's 2-0,'' Stars center Mike Modano said. ``It was catch up from there.''
Sakic put the Avalanche up 3-0 just four minutes into the third period, flipping a backhander off Turco after his first shot was knocked down in traffic.
|Peter Forsberg (1) Wrist shot - ASST: Rob Blake (1), Marek Svatos (1)|
1 - 0 COL
|Alex Tanguay (1) Wrist shot - ASST: Robert Boughner (1), John-Michael Liles (1)|
2 - 0 COL
|Joe Sakic (1) Backhand shot - ASST: Teemu Selanne (1), Robert Boughner (2)|
3 - 0 COL
|Niko Kapanen (1) Wrist shot - ASST: Rob DiMaio (1), Teppo Numminen (1)|
3 - 1 COL
|Valeri Bure Too many men/ice - bench|
|Richard Matvichuk Holding against Teemu Selanne|
|Philippe Boucher Roughing against Milan Hejduk|
|Matthew Barnaby Hooking against Stu Barnes|
|Rob Blake Holding against Brenden Morrow|
|Brenden Morrow Interference against Robert Boughner|
|Teemu Selanne Too many men/ice - bench|
|Adam Foote Roughing against Shayne Corson|
|Adam Foote Cross checking against Jere Lehtinen|
|SA: 25||TOI: 58:41|
|Saves: 22||EV: 14 - 17|
|PIM: 0||PP: 8 - 8|
|SV%: .880||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 38||TOI: 60:00|
|Saves: 37||EV: 30 - 31|
|PIM: 0||PP: 6 - 6|
|SV%: .974||SH: 1 - 1|