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Avalanche-Devils Preview @NHLdotcom
Avalanche-Devils Preview

GAME: Colorado Avalanche (15-10-3) at New Jersey Devils (13-12-2).

TIME: Friday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

The Colorado Avalanche have a pleasant dilemma to sort out.

After an impressive NHL debut, the Avalanche may look once again to rookie Vitaly Kolesnik in net when they meet the New Jersey Devils.

Kolesnik was recalled from Tuesday from Lowell of the American Hockey League where he was 10-8-0 with a 2.80 goals-against average, a .916 save percentage and two shutouts.

The next night he turned aside 20 shots in a 4-1 win over the Boston Bruins.

Kolesnik joins David Aebischer and Peter Budaj to create a logjam in goal for coach Joel Quenneville. Aebischer and Budaj combined to give up 11 goals in two losses before Kolesnik's debut.

"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," Quenneville said.

Avs captain Joe Sakic was also impressed with the rookie.

"He played well, really well," Sakic told the Denver Post. "He's a big kid and (shooters) don't see a lot of net. He played great positionally today. For a first game I'm sure he was nervous, but he played great."

Sakic had two assists in the win over Boston. He enters this contest with five goals and six assists during a seven-game points streak.

Sakic has 13 goals and 35 points in 34 regular-season games against the Devils in his career.

New Jersey will try to avoid their season-high third straight loss. Alexander Mogilny scored the lone goal for the Devils Wednesday in a 4-1 loss to the Calgary Flames.

New Jersey has scored three goals or less in five straight games.

"We've had our chances," forward Scott Gomez said. "When the power play is going good, they bounce in off three or four guys. Now, sometimes, it looks like we just learned how to skate."

New Jersey is 5-1-2 in its last eight home games against Colorado.

STANDINGS (through Dec. 8): Avalanche - 33 points, 3rd place, 5 PB, Northwest Division. Devils - 28 points, 4th place, 14 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Avalanche - Marek Svatos, 13 goals; Alex Tanguay, 21 assists and 32 points; Ian Laperriere, 50 PIM. Devils - Brian Gionta, 16 goals and 29 points; Gomez, 14 assists; Jamie Langenbrunner, 34 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 8): Avalanche - Power play: 19.1 percent (35 for 183), 8th in NHL (tied). Penalty killing: 84.6 percent (132 for 156), 6th (tied). Devils - Power play: 18.2 percent (29 for 159), 12th (tied). Penalty killing: 82.9 percent (112 for 135), 11th.

GOALTENDERS: Avalanche - Aebischer (11-6-0, 1 SO, 3.37 GAA); Kolesnik (1-0-0, 0, 1.00). Devils - Martin Brodeur (11-9-0, 3.11); Scott Clemmensen (2-3-2, 3.54).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Devils, 1-0-1.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 30, 2003; Tie, 1-1. At Denver, Erik Rasmussen scored the tying goal 73 seconds after Milan Hejduk gave Colorado the lead.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Avalanche - 7-6-0 on the road; Devils - 8-5-1 at home.

Associated Press
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