<
>

Laperriere nets two goals as Avs tame Coyotes

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Ian Laperriere thought hard work was all
Colorado needed to get out of a slump. He was right.

Laperriere sparked the Western Conference's most productive
offense with two goals, and rookie Peter Budaj had a much-needed
solid game in goal, leading the Avalanche to a 5-2 victory over the
Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night.

"It's not like we've been playing bad for the last month, but
we didn't put in an effort like we did tonight for 60 minutes, and
it's great to see," said Laperriere, who left Los Angeles after
eight seasons to sign with Colorado in July 2004. "We just put the
working boots on."

Pierre Turgeon, Milan Hejduk and Andrew Brunette also scored for
the Avalanche, who won for only the fourth time in 11 games. Their
last victory was a 7-4 win over Phoenix on Monday night.

Budaj, pulled in the first period Wednesday night in a loss in
Colorado after allowing two goals in four shots, had 30 saves. This
time, his only failures were on shots by Geoff Sanderson and Denis
Gauthier.

"They don't try to put too much pressure on me, because it's
not healthy," Budaj said. "But I was lucky a couple of times, and
the team played really good in front of me, and it's a credit to
them."

Sanderson's power-play goal cut Colorado's lead to 4-2 with 6:27
left in the game.

But Brunette, who also had an assist, answered with 3:25 to go,
tucking Joe Sakic's pass to the edge of the crease past Curtis
Joseph.

The Avalanche, who never trailed, broke open a 2-1 game with two
goals in the first 3:44 of the third period.

Turgeon tipped a slap shot by Blake 1:33 in, converting 24
seconds into a power play that came about when the Coyotes' Oleg
Saprykin stepped on a stick and was penalized for tripping.

"Blake takes a nice shot, and I think that changed the momentum
of the hockey game," Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. "We just
couldn't find our way back into it."

Laperriere went to one knee for a slapper in the slot, beating
Joseph low to the right side for insurance.

"I thought we had a tremendous game," coach Joel Quenneville
said about the Avalanche's improvement to 2-5 in the second game of
back-to-backs. "It was a real good response to a bad performance
last night. All of the areas of our game were rock-solid."

Joseph, a surprise starter after allowing 22 goals in six
previous games, had 23 saves.

Budaj started over former No. 1 David Aebischer for the fourth
time in six games Quenneville continued to tinker with a position
that had allowed 135 goals, second-worst in the West.

Budaj was tested quickly, stopping Ladislav Nagy not long after
Phoenix's Mike Comrie and Brett McLean got into a fight on the
opening faceoff. But Joseph wasn't as fortunate on Colorado's first
shot -- a drive from above the circle by Rob Blake.

The rebound went to Brunette, who scooped it across the crease
to Hejduk for an easy shot past Joseph's stick 5:17 in and 50
seconds into the Avs' first power play.

Colorado went ahead 2-0 with a similar goal. Antti Laaksonen
went to the boards after a faceoff and got the puck to Brett
McLean, who centered it to Laperriere for the goal with 8:31 left
in the second period.

Phoenix was quick to answer, Gauthier redirecting Mike Johnson's
slap shot past Budaj 47 seconds later.

"We had to play catch-up all night, and they did a good job of
shutting down all of us offensively," Sanderson said. "We didn't
get many chances."

Game notes
Laperriere's goals gave him 13, tying his career-high set
in 1994-95 as a rookie with St. Louis. ... The game started off
chippy. In addition to McLean-Comrie, former Coyotes player Brad
May fought with Tim Jackman in the first period. ... Colorado D
Patrice Brisebois was scratched before the game with a back injury.
... Blake, McLean and Alex Tanguay had two assists each for
Colorado. ... The Avs have a West-leading 149 goals in 40 games.