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Avs Fall To Blackhawks In First Shootout

by Staff Writer / Colorado Avalanche
DENVER (AP) -- Nikolai Khabibulin played his best game in goal since signing with Chicago, and the Blackhawks scored on all three chances in a shootout to beat the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 Friday night.

Colorado's Alex Tanguay matched Tyler Arnason on the first shot of the shootout, but rookie Marek Svatos missed the net after Chicago's Tuomo Ruutu scored at the other end. Pavel Vorobiev sealed the Blackhawks' second win of the season by beating Colorado goalie Peter Budaj to the glove side.

Jaroslav Spacek scored in the first period and Kyle Calder put the Blackhawks up 2-1 with six minutes left in regulation, lifting in a rebound after Budaj made a difficult save against Arnason.

But Chicago, just like it had all game, couldn't keep players out of the penalty box. After failing on two brief two-man advantages early, Colorado capitalized this time, with John-Michael Liles getting a hard slap shot past Khabibulin with 2:03 left in regulation.

Chicago was called for 13 penalties -- 11 in the first two periods.

Sakic tied Maurice Richard for 21st on the NHL list with his 544th career goal. Budaj was solid in his second game, stopping 38 shots, including 16 in a back-and-forth second period. But Colorado had trouble getting shots past Khabibulin, particularly on the power play, where the Avalanche were 2-for-12.

Khabibulin was shaky his first four games -- 15 goals, .847 save percentage -- after signing a four-year, $27 million deal with Chicago, but he looked more like the goalie who led Tampa Bay to a Stanley Cup title before the lockout.

Seeing pucks in traffic and adjusting well to cross-ice passes, Khabibulin made tough saves look easy and kept his ground as Colorado bounced numerous rebounds at him. He stopped 27 shots, including a pair that led to Calder's goal at the other end.

Colorado just missed on a couple of shots during its first 5-on-3 midway through the first period, then broke through for the game's first goal as Spacek skated from the penalty box.

Brett McLean set it up by threading a pass through the crease, and Sakic finished it off with a one-timer that beat Khabibulin to the stick side and tie the "Rocket. " The fans got to their feet after the milestone was announced and Sakic acknowledged the cheers by waving his hand from the bench.

Spacek tied it with 3½ minutes left in the first with a shot through traffic from the top of the circles.

Game notes Chicago captain Adrian Aucoin missed his third straight games with a groin strain. ... Colorado's Ian Laperriere played career game No. 699. ... Sakic has 1,047 points, two behind Dale Hawerchuk for 15th on the career list.

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