Raycroft a success in his Colorado debut | SummitDaily.com

Raycroft a success in his Colorado debut

Philadelphia Flyers left winger Simon Gagne, left, puts a penalty shot past Colorado Avalanche goalie Andrew Raycroft for a goal in the second period of an NHL hockey game in Denver on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2008. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER ” Andrew Raycroft’s first career start for Colorado was a success Thursday night as the former Toronto goaltender helped the Avalanche beat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2 for their first win.

Raycroft is the backup to Peter Budaj, who accepted much of the blame for the Avs’ 0-3 start. Colorado coach Tony Granato said this wasn’t a matter of Budaj being benched, just Raycroft getting his normal one start per week to get into a good rhythm.

Either way, Budaj got a rest, the Avalanche pressured the Flyers (0-3-1) early and relied on Raycroft’s steady play in goal and captain Joe Sakic’s three assists to pull out their first win of the season.

The goals Raycroft allowed came on a 5-on-3 power play and a penalty shot.

Budaj has allowed 13 goals in three games, all one-goal losses. Raycroft signed this offseason with Colorado after Jose Theodore bolted for Washington as a free agent. Raycroft started 16 games for the Maple Leafs last season, going 2-9-5.

Raycroft’s teammates made sure he wouldn’t have a pressure-filled debut for the Avs.

The Avalanche outshot the Flyers 17-3 in the first period and got goals from Brett Clark and Marek Svatos, who scored on a power play, to take a 2-0 lead.

Sakic sent a cross-ice pass to Clark, who one-timed it through Martin Biron’s legs for his first goal of the season. Then, Ruslan Salei sent the puck across the ice to Wojtek Wolski, who sent it down into the slot and Svatos put the puck over Biron’s left shoulder.

The Flyers scored twice in the second period but both times the Avalanche quickly responded with goals of their own and took a 4-2 lead into the final period.

Milan Hejduk needed less than a minute to reply to Simon Gagne’s goal on a penalty shot, and Cody McCormick responded to Mike Richards’ one-timer on a 5-on-3 advantage with a goal that scooted past Biron with just 35 seconds left in the second period.

With seven minutes remaining in the game, Paul Stastny scored on a 5-on-3 power play to make it 5-2.

Notes: Budaj is expected to return in goal Saturday night at Dallas. … The Avs honored D Adam Foote in pregame ceremonies commemorating his 1,000th NHL game last Sunday at Edmonton. … Sakic, who decided in August to return for his 20th NHL season, hadn’t scored a point in his first four games since 1999-2000. … Colorado outshot Philadelphia 34-18.

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