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Budaj Solid in Late-Season Stretch

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche has picked up at least one point in each of its last three games, marking the first time it has done so since posting a three-game winning streak from Feb. 15-20. A big part of the team’s recent improved play has been Peter Budaj's performance between the pipes.

The goaltender continued his strong stretch last night in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars by turning aside 37-of-39 shots through overtime. Budaj has put up impressive numbers in his last three outings, which also include a win in Vancouver and a shootout loss at San Jose. During that span, the netminder has posted a 0.95 goals-against average and a .967 save percentage.

“I feel good. The guys have really helped in front,” Budaj said following Thursday’s contest. “They help me to see shots; teams don’t get many rebound opportunities because our players are cleaning it up in front of me.”

In particular, Budaj has been impressed with the Avalanche’s young defensive unit. With many of the club’s regulars succumbing to injuries, Colorado has suited up four rookie defensemen recently. Still, the unit has performed like a group of seasoned veterans, allowing only three goals in 190 minutes of regulation and overtime play during the last three games.

“They’re playing great. They’re consistent, working hard, communicating with me and each other,” said Budaj. “The young guys are playing really good. It just shows that with our core players hurt, the young guys are stepping up.”

Lappy Set to Hit Milestone
Veteran forward Ian Laperriere played in his 999th career NHL game last night against Dallas, meaning Saturday’s contest against the Vancouver Canucks will mark game number 1,000 for the fan favorite.

With everything he’s accomplished during his career, the milestone is one achievement that Laperriere is particularly proud of.

“I know I put in all the effort to make it to that level, but also I needed luck,” said Laperriere. “In 1,000 games you have your good ones and your bad ones too. But you always remember your first one. That first one caught me by surprise. I was playing juniors; I was 19 years old and they called me up from my junior team to play an NHL game. That was special.”

The 15-year NHL veteran has totaled 118 goals, 198 assists and 1,794 penalty minutes during stints with Colorado, Los Angeles, the New York Rangers and St. Louis. This season, he leads the Avalanche in penalty minutes (163, the second-highest total of his career), blocked shots (67) and fighting majors (17).

“I’m enjoying it. It’s been my dream to play in the NHL. I’m at 1,000 now and I just don’t want to wake up.”

The Avalanche will honor Laperriere’s achievement with a pre-game presentation prior to the start of Sunday’s contest against the St. Louis Blues.

Foote Still Hoping to Return
Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote, who last played on March 12 at Minnesota, is still holding out hope that he will play in one of the team’s two remaining games.

Foote has been practicing with increased intensity lately, and said following Friday’s skate that he will undergo further testing today to determine if a return is in the cards.
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