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Anderson's 41 saves, Stewart's goal lead Avs

by Dan Rosen
NEWARK, N.J. -- Colorado goalie Craig Anderson packed up his own bag with all of his equipment, barely sniffling like you hear from most hockey players after they come off the ice. His breath wasn't choppy at all and his forehead, while wet, was not dripping with sweat.

Anderson looked like he could play another 60 minutes and face another 43 shots. Give him some Gatorade, a five-minute break, and he would have been fine for a doubleheader Friday night.

"When you're reading and reacting to the play you're in position and the game looks easy," Anderson said after making 41 saves at the Prudential Center to preserve Colorado's 3-2 victory over New Jersey. "I think sometimes guys make spectacular saves because they get out of position. We're all pretty agile to make desperation saves, but sometimes when a goalie looks like he's not working very hard it's because he's working very smart."

Save for two pucks that squeaked by him, Anderson was brilliant against the Devils, and he got the backing of goals from Chris Stewart, T.J. Galiardi and Cody McLeod (before he got kicked out of the game for boarding). Stewart's goal off the rush 4:31 into the third period proved to be the difference, but Anderson was the hot topic inside the Avs' dressing room.

Anderson made 17 saves in the first period, letting the Avs escape with a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes despite the fact that they only got three shots on Devils goalie Martin Brodeur. All three shots came during a four-minute power play midway through the period; McLeod's goal came with just four seconds left on Colin White's double-minor for high sticking.

"We were lucky to come out of that first period up by a goal, not down by three," Galiardi said. "That just shows how good Andy is for us. He's the backbone of our team. I got to know him last year and he's got that swagger to him. He keeps bringing it."

Anderson made nine more saves in the second period, when the Devils and Avs traded goals, before stopping 15 of 16 shots in the third.

Stewart gave Anderson and the Avalanche a two-goal cushion with his short-side, glove-side slap shot that beat Brodeur early in the period, but the Devils pushed hard after Ilya Kovalchuk beat Anderson through the five-hole with a shot from the left circle 8:49 into the period.

Anderson shut the door, making 11 saves in the final 11 minutes. Colorado managed only one shot during the span.

"He was very good," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said of Anderson. "Very good."

Anderson led the Avs back to the playoffs last season despite facing more shots than any goaltender in the NHL.

"He seems like the kind of guy the more shots on him the better he plays," Galiardi said. "I think he's been that way for a while. It brings another element to your team when you can count on a goalie like that."

Anderson did get some much-needed help in the first period from defenseman Scott Hannan.

Colorado was killing McLeod's five-minute major for boarding Devils rookie defenseman Matt Taormina when Dainius Zubrus nearly scored the tying goal on a pretty walk-around the goalmouth goal.

Anderson did his best to cut off Zubrus, but the shot still got behind him. The slow-moving puck was targeted for the back of the net when Hannan laid his stick across the goal line to push it out to the right side.

Devils rookie Jacob Josefson, who was playing his first NHL game, was there in the right circle to gather the rebound on his backhand and attempt a shot at what appeared to be an open net. However, Hannan recovered in time to go down to his knees and block Josefson's shot.

"That was a great play," Anderson said. "My job there is to protect the walk and he was able to walk all the way across. That's a time when you're desperate and you're just trying to make the best play, and Scotty was in the right place at the right time. Thank goodness we have him back there. He's just a great, solid defenseman for us."

McLeod beat Brodeur 11:50 into the first period with a power-play slapper, but 22 seconds later he was being sent off the ice for boarding Taormina in the corner near Brodeur. Sacco didn't have a problem with the call.

"It was a boarding call and then it's an automatic game misconduct if there is an injury to the player's head, and I believe he was cut," Sacco said. "It was automatic. There is no way around it. Cody is trying to finish his check, but he's got to be a little more careful."

Galiardi extended the Avs' lead to 2-0 with 8:12 to play in the second period when he scored off a rebound of Stewart's blast from the right circle. The play was created off a Devils turnover in their own zone.

Exactly three minutes later, Taormina ripped a one-timer from the blue line that beat Anderson and cut the Devils' deficit to one. Taormina was playing just his fifth NHL game, but he finished with his first career goal, an assist, six shots and a team-high 24:42 of ice time.

"He played well so I'm confident in his abilities," Devils coach John MacLean said of Taormina. "He's a young guy but he's growing in confidence and he's getting an opportunity."

The Devils, who are now 1-3-1 this season and 0-2-1 at home, have to worry about frustration seeping into their game.

They've scored only four goals over their last three games, including three on 78 shots over the last two games. They limited Buffalo to 24 shots in a 1-0 overtime victory on Wednesday and held Colorado to only 22 shots in the loss Friday.

New Jersey hosts Boston on Saturday night.

"It's not going our way right now," a frustrated Zach Parise said. "We'll have to figure it out here soon."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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