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Devils' comeback falls short in shootout loss to Avs

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Antti Laaksonen was ready -- and
relaxed -- when he finally got his turn in the seventh round of a
shootout.

The Colorado forward scored the only shootout goal Friday night
to give the Avalanche a 4-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils.

Laaksonen beat Martin Brodeur with a high backhander to help the
Avalanche pull out the win on a night in which they squandered a
3-0 lead.

"Being that late in the shootout, I didn't feel any pressure,"
Laaksonen said. "The first three guys have all the pressure to
score."

If anything, Laaksonen gained an advantage by watching the first
six rounds.

"I started watching what Brodeur was doing," Laaksonen said.
"He went down on every shot when somebody made a move. I faked a
shot and he went down, so I got off the backhand over his pad."

Laaksonen scored after Joe Sakic, Marek Svatos, Milan Hejduk,
Alex Tanguay, Pierre Turgeon and Andrew Brunette missed for
Colorado.

Vitaly Kolesnik, who won his second game in two starts since he
was recalled from the minors on Tuesday, stopped New Jersey's
Viktor Kozlov, Brian Gionta, Scott Gomez, Alexander Mogilny, Sergei
Brylin, John Madden and Jamie Langenbrunner.

"I think what we're seeing here is what was on display in the
world championships last year," Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville
said about Kolesnik, the he former top netminder for Kazakhstan.
"His performance created interest in the eyes of a couple of
people in the organization."

Kolesnik was third among all world championship goalies with a
95.2 save percentage. The 26-year-old signed with Colorado as a
free agent in the offseason.

In regulation, Brunette had two goals and Sakic also scored in
the first period as Colorado jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Jay
Pandolfo, Gionta and Gomez scored for New Jersey, which dropped its
third straight game.

Gomez sent the game into overtime, scoring at 10:09 of the third
period with a deflection of Richard Matvichuk's point shot.

Brunette opened the scoring at 3:31 of the first period, putting
in his own rebound in a goal-mouth scramble. Turgeon assisted on
the goal for his 1,300th career point. Turgeon is the 27th player
to reach that level.

Sakic scored with 3:31 left in the period.

Brunette struck again with 1:19 remaining in the first, blasting
Turgeon's rebound past Brodeur.

The Devils cut it to 3-2 in the second period.

Pandolfo took a feed from Mogilny and split the Colorado defense
to fire a shot over Kolesnik's glove at 5:49.

The Devils struggling power play, only 1-for-33 in the previous
five games, connected on its first opportunity with the help of a
lucky bounce at 7:12 to cut the Avalanche's lead to 3-2.

Kolesnik went behind his net to play a Devils' dump in. The puck
never got to him. It hit a crease in the boards and bounced right
to Gionta, who scored before Kolesnik could scramble back into
position.

Devils coach Larry Robinson questioned his team's leadership
following a 4-1 loss to Calgary on Wednesday night. Robinson saw
encouraging signs against the Avalanche.

"Coming back against a team like Colorado says a lot about our
club," said Robinson.

The message got through to the players.

"I took it as a good slap in the face," Gomez said. "He had
every right to say that, the way we were playing. After the first
period, it was like the old Devils. I think we're finally realizing
what this unit can do."

Game notes
Avalanche forward Dan Hinote played in his 300th game. ...
Devils defenseman Dan McGillis was a healthy scratch for the fourth
straight game. ... With Kolesnik in goal again, David Aebischer was
not in uniform for the first time this season. Peter Budaj was the
backup.