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Columbus has yet to win on the road

12/7/2003

DENVER (AP) -- With David Aebischer playing so well, Philippe Sauve hasn't had much of a chance to build any momentum.

He might have some now.

Sauve stopped 35 shots, Joe Sakic had a goal and three assists,
and the Colorado Avalanche stayed unbeaten against the Columbus Blue Jackets with a 5-1 victory Saturday night.

"Sometimes you are not going to see him for a while,"
Avalanche coach Tony Granato said. "When David is going well the
way he has been, you might not see Phil but once every three weeks.
That is tough to do. Obviously, he adjusted to that role and he
played extremely well."

Sauve has played just twice since his first NHL win on Nov. 6.
Part of the reason was that Aebischer was playing great -- 8-1-2 in
his past 11 games -- but also because Sauve wasn't so great.

He allowed three goals in each of his last two starts and
entered Saturday's game with a 2.60 goals-against average and an
.892 save percentage.

Sauve had plenty of reason -- and time -- to get down on himself,
but he didn't let it happen.

He was spectacular at times in his first game since Nov. 24,
stopping 27 shots in the final two periods.

In the second period, Sauve stopped one shot and dived back to
get his stick out just in time to block Derrick Walser from just
outside the crease.

Sauve was just as good in the third, when he made a sprawling
save on Walser's one-timer from just in front of the goal and
gloved a hard shot by Rick Nash late.

"I don't see a lot of ice time and whenever I do, I get real
excited to play," Sauve said. "I want to help the team out as
much as I can."

His teammates returned the favor.

Sakic scored his ninth goal and has 11 points in six games.
Derek Morris added a goal and two assists. Milan Hejduk scored his
15th goal, and Teemu Selanne and Andrei Nikolishin also scored to
push Colorado's unbeaten streak to five games (3-0-2).

But as good as the Avalanche have been lately, they've been even
better against Columbus.

Colorado is 12-0-1 all-time against the Blue Jackets, including
7-0 at home, and has scored five or more goals seven times against
them.

Columbus coach Doug MacLean turned sarcastic when asked about
the streak that started with the Blue Jackets' first season in
2000.

"I don't know," MacLean said. "Sakic, Forsberg, Kariya,
Selanne, Foote. You need any more names? How many more do you need?
Is that enough for you?"

Nash scored in his fifth straight game -- and his 10th goal in
nine games -- but Columbus was miserable on special teams to remain
the league's only winless team on the road.

Columbus, 1-4-1 its last six games, allowed three power-play
goals and was 0-for-6 with the man advantage to set a team record
for longest road losing streak (0-9-1-1).

"Obviously, there's a lot of urgency in our speeches and in our
talk right now about getting that first win under our belt and
getting going here," MacLean said. "That's not the way it's going
to happen."

The Avalanche didn't waste any time adding to Columbus'
troubles, scoring five minutes in on a give-and-go between Selanne
and Sakic.

Selanne easily scored his eighth of the season after Sakic's
quick one-touch pass pulled Columbus goalie Marc Denis almost all
the way out of the crease.

And the Avalanche didn't let up.

Sakic, playing NHL game No. 1,100, made it 2-0 on a power play
with 5:31 left in the first, beating Denis stick side with a
wrister while the Blue Jackets were still setting up.

Hejduk added to it 49 seconds later, punching it in from the
edge of the crease after Morris' shot jumped Denis' stick.

"That's what we talked about before, trying to get off to a
good start," Sakic said. "And we did."

Morris scored at 12:50 of the third, one-timing a pass from Alex
Tanguay with a two-man advantage. Nikolishin made it 5-1 just 35
seconds later on a power play, beating Denis between the pads from
a tough angle.

Nash, playing his 100th NHL game, extended his points streak to
eight games with a slick goal at 9:52 of the second period.

Nash took a pass from Andrew Cassels from behind the goal,
dragged the puck behind him to draw Sauve out, then quickly
switched to the backhand for his 18th of the season. He only scored
17 in 74 games during his rookie season of 2002-03.

Game notes
Hejduk left in the second period with a slight groin pull
and didn't return. ... Nash has eight goals and two assists during
his point streak. ... Colorado D Adam Foote was back after missing
Thursday's game with the flu. ... Columbus hasn't won on the road
since a 6-4 victory over Calgary on March 29. ... Colorado is
13-4-2-1 against the Western Conference.