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Budaj stops 33 for first shutout to give Avs division lead

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."

Game 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.