Avs down Coyotes to solidify playoff chances | SummitDaily.com

Avs down Coyotes to solidify playoff chances

Colorado Avalanche right wing Milan Hejduk, front left, of the Czech Republic, puts a shot on Phoenix Coyotes goalie Philippe Sauve, right, as Coyotes defenseman Paul Mara, back left, comes in to cover during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Denver on Tuesday, April 11, 2006. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER (AP) ” Jose Theodore won in his first start for Colorado, Alex Tanguay scored on his first shift after coming off the injured list and the Avalanche solidified their playoff chances with a 6-4 victory over Phoenix on Tuesday night.

Colorado scored six goals in the first 29 minutes in its home finale, moving a point ahead of San Jose for sixth place in the Western Conference. Andrew Brunette and Brett Clark each had a goal and an assist for the Avalanche, who end the season on the road against Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton.

The Avalanche traded David Aebischer to Montreal for Theodore last month to give them a veteran goalie for the playoffs. Theodore had been out since Jan. 31 because of a broken heel and was supposed to start against Phoenix, but was called into action Sunday when Peter Budaj gave up two goals on three shots against Minnesota.

Theodore’s new teammates didn’t make it easy on him in his first start.

Colorado was called for six penalties in the first period, twice giving Phoenix two-man advantages that lasted nearly 2 minutes combined. Theodore didn’t budge, making his best saves midway through, turning away Zybnek Michalek from the point and Fredrik Sjostrom on the rebound during a power play.

It wasn’t until late in the game that Theodore started having problems.

Mike Ricci scored Phoenix’s first goal with 44 seconds left in the second period, redirecting a shot by Derek Morris on a power play. Morris then got his first fifth goal of the season with just under 8 minutes left in the game and Mike Comrie followed with his 30th 61 seconds later. Josh Gratton capped the scoring with 95 seconds left with his first career goal.

Theodore stopped 21 shots.

Colorado’s offense made up for it by scoring early and often.

Tanguay, out since March 19 with a knee injury, got the first 68 seconds into the game, stealing the puck from Michalek near the red line and beating Philippe Sauve on the breakaway for his 27th of the season.

Clark added a power-play goal midway through, then Milan Hejduk got his 24th of the year on another power play with 63 seconds left, one-timing a nifty, close-range pass from Brunette.

Ian Laperriere made it 4-0 just 38 seconds into the second period, redirecting a shot from Clark at the point, and Brunette got his career-high 24th goal just over 7 minutes later on a power play.

Phoenix was even putting pucks into its own net.

Pierre Turgeon was credited with his 15th goal at 8:57 of the second, when he shoveled a pass to the front of the net and Phoenix’s Paul Mara one-timed it past Sauve as he tried to clear the puck off the boards.

That one wasn’t Sauve’s fault, but it was enough for coach Wayne Gretzky, who replaced him with David Leneveu.

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