DENVER (AP) - Vitaly Kolesnik had the kind of game that could lead to a shakeup for the Colorado Avalanche.
Kolesnik stopped 20 shots in his NHL debut, and Alex Tanguay had a goal for the third straight game and added two assists to lift the Avalanche to a 4-1 victory over the struggling Boston Bruins on Wednesday night.
Frustrated with the spotty play of goalies David Aebischer and Peter Budaj, the Avalanche called up Kolesnik on Tuesday and wasted no time putting him between the pipes.
The 26-year-old player from Kazakhstan was solid, keeping good position in the crease, knocking down some tough chances through traffic and controlling rebounds - playing the kind of game that could make things interesting in Denver over the next week or so.
"It's in everybody's interest in our sport that you've got to overcome a lot of obstacles to get opportunities," Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville said. "The guys who can persevere and can handle it usually rise to the occasion. We're looking at a very interesting position at goaltending. The importance of it, we feel all three of them have the character to handle the situation."
Aebischer, Colorado's top goalie to start the season, has a 3.37 goals-against average and was pulled after allowing four goals on 16 shots in the first period of a 6-4 loss to Buffalo on Sunday.
Budaj, a rookie, is 3-4-3 with a .904 save percentage, 0-3 in shootouts and has yet to win in four games at home.
Bringing up Kolesnik could be a sign that the Avalanche are looking to make a deal or it could just be that Quenneville and the front office are looking to spark Aebischer and Budaj.
Either way, Kolesnik played great.
He was particularly good during a power play midway through the first period, smothering a hard shot from the top with his body, gloving another from the left circle and sticking his skate out just in time to block a rebound. Boston's only goal came with 27 seconds left in the first period, when Marco Sturm slipped behind Colorado's defense for a breakaway and scored off a rebound that tied it at 1-all.
But that was it.
Milan Hejduk, Brett McLean and John-Michael Liles added goals, and Colorado's defense allowed 10 shots over the final two periods to make things easy on Kolesnik in the Avalanche's fourth win in six games.
"I thought he played a great game," said Colorado's Joe Sakic, who had two assists to extend his point streak to seven games. "He's a big kid. You don't see a lot of room in the net with him."
Boston got a spark after trading Joe Thornton to San Jose for Sturm, Wayne Primeau and Brad Stuart last week, winning two of its first three games without its former captain.
It didn't last long. The Bruins went back to their inconsistent ways against the Avalanche, giving away too many pucks in their own zone, losing the battles along the boards and taking penalties at inopportune times to lose for the 11th time in 14 games.
"We didn't give ourselves a chance all night," Bruins coach Mike Sullivan said. "We're fighting for our lives here and to have that kind of approach tonight is disappointing."
It didn't help that goalie Andrew Raycroft had another tough outing after taking three games off.
Hejduk scored on a power play in the first period, knocking in his third goal in 18 games to an open net after a shot by Tanguay caromed off someone out front. Tanguay put Colorado up 2-1 midway through the second, holding the puck across the crease and flipping a shot over a prone Raycroft after intercepting a pass from Bruins defenseman Brian Leetch.
McLean made it 3-1 just over four minutes later with an improbable goal, beating Raycroft to the stick side after whirling around near the blue line. Liles scored his seventh of the season midway through the third, one-timing a pass from Sakic past Raycroft's stick side.
"It's a different day, same story," said Raycroft, who's allowed 15 goals his last four games. "There's not a lot to say - positive anyway."
Notes: Boston C Patrice Bergeron played his 100th career game. ... Bruins LW Sergei Samsonov missed his second straight game after experiencing numbness in his hands and wrists on Sunday. ... Tests showed Bruins D Nick Boynton suffered a stress fracture from banging his knee into the boards Sunday against Vancouver.
|PPG - Milan Hejduk (6) ASST: Joe Sakic (18), Alex Tanguay (20)|
1 - 0 COL
|Marco Sturm (9) ASST: Brad Boyes (13), Patrice Bergeron (10)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Alex Tanguay (11) ASST: NONE|
2 - 1 COL
|Brett McLean (2) ASST: Andrew Brunette (15), Rob Blake (14)|
3 - 1 COL
|PPG - John-Michael Liles (7) ASST: Joe Sakic (19), Alex Tanguay (21)|
4 - 1 COL
|Wayne Primeau Hooking against Pierre Turgeon|
|Karlis Skrastins Holding against Brad Isbister|
|Brad Isbister Hooking against Ian Laperriere|
|Jiri Slegr Holding against Antti Laaksonen|
|Joe Sakic Hooking against Alexei Zhamnov|
|Alexei Zhamnov Holding against Joe Sakic|
|Glen Murray Holding against Rob Blake|
|Karlis Skrastins Hooking|
|Pierre Turgeon Hooking against Dan Lacouture|