Aebischer wins fifth straight as Avs top Canadiens

DENVER (AP) -- Last month, Colorado goalie David Aebischer was
troubled by new rules, smaller pads and the longest slump of his
career in which he lost four straight and didn't even suit up five

Now, nothing's bothering him.

Aebischer won his fifth straight start Wednesday night when he
stopped 25 shots in the Avalanche's 2-1 win over the Montreal
Canadiens, Colorado's sixth straight victory.

"It seems like the puck is hitting me. It doesn't look really
bigger but it seems like everything I do, the puck hits me exactly
where I want it to," Aebischer said.

Aebischer's biggest save came with 23 seconds left when the
Canadiens had pulled their goalie and Michael Ryder had a perfect
setup in front of the net to send it to overtime.

"He had a lot patience with the puck, more than I expected,"
Aebischer said. "I was pretty set when he touched the puck. I
thought he was going to shoot right away but he made a move, so I
had enough time to push and get my leg and blocker out there."

Ian Laperriere's goal with 3:36 left in the third period capped
Colorado's comeback. Brad Richardson passed to Laperriere in front
of the net and he beat Cristobal Huet through the legs to break a
1-1 tie.

"We had a chance to clear the zone and we didn't do it, and
then it ended up going behind the net, and I turned one way and I
looked in front and Ian was there to bury it five-hole," Huet

Huet appeared on his way to his first shutout of the season,
stopping the first 35 shots he faced before Marek Svatos put in a
rebound of a shot by Karlis Skrastins at 10:30 of the final period
to tie it at 1. Svatos' 26th goal tied him with Alexander Ovechkin
for the NHL rookie lead.

Suddenly, the Avalanche, scuffling just two weeks ago, have a
swagger about them.

"From Abby up we have confidence," Laperriere said. "We have
Svatos who doesn't stop scoring; it's great to see from a
23-year-old. When you've got young guys like Richardson stepping up
when you get organization, it shows depth in the organization."

When Aebischer was going 0-for-December, there were calls for
the Avs to jettison the goalie who had performed well below
expectations set on him when he took over for Patrick Roy in 2003.

Now, he's led Colorado to its first six-game winning streak
since Jan. 30-Feb. 11, 2003.

"Especially goaltenders, it's another ballgame," Aebischer
said. "You're going to have ups and downs in a season. It was too
long for me but I finally found a way out of it."

So, too, have the Avs.

"Well, the whole team plays good and right now we're where we
wanted to be maybe for a month and a-half we wanted to get on a
streak, on a roll and the streak is finally here," Aebischer said.
"In the whole team you can see that we play with much more
confidence than we did a month ago and the tight game we lost
before and now we're winning them."

The Avs won despite going 0-for-7 on power plays. Montreal was

The Canadiens fell to 0-6-1 in Denver since the Quebec Nordiques
moved to Colorado and became the Avalanche a decade ago.

"We played very good, and when you are up 1-0 halfway through
the third period, you expect to get something out of it," Huet
said. "That is the way it is, we lost the game and that's that."

Moments after Avs right-winger Milan Hejduk hit the left post,
Canadiens defenseman Craig Rivet broke the scoreless tie at 7:26 of
the second period when he scored on a slap shot from the right

Despite an 18-4 shot advantage, Colorado failed to score a goal
in the first period for just the ninth time in 45 games. The
Avalanche lead the league with 64 first-period goals.

The safety glass behind the Canadiens' goal was broken with 28
seconds left in the second and the teams were sent to their
dressing rooms. They returned and finished the period before
switching sides.

Game notes
Laperriere's 14th goal established a single-season career
high. He had an empty-netter in the closing seconds that was wiped
off because an official blew his whistle, thinking the puck had
gone out of play. ... This was the only game of the season for the
former Adams Division rivals and only the Canadiens' second visit
to Denver in five seasons. ... Avs C Joe Sakic became the 64th
player in NHL history to play in 1,200 games.