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Avalanche rout Devils, Brodeur 6-1

by Rick Sadowski
DENVER – Goals and victories have been rare feats for the Colorado Avalanche, especially on home ice, and neither expected to come easily Wednesday night against Martin Brodeur, the winningest goalie in NHL history.

But the Avalanche, who were averaging fewer than two goals per game at home, stunned Brodeur with three first-period goals and skated to a 6-1 win against the New Jersey Devils at the Pepsi Center.

Six different players scored goals as the Avalanche posted just their fifth victory in 14 home games.

Milan Hejduk and TJ Galiardi snapped long slumps with goals that came 6:37 apart, and defenseman Jan Hejda beat Brodeur with a 45-foot screen shot.

"We had the start we hoped for, something we haven't had for a while," Hejduk said. "It was a great team effort. Hopefully we can duplicate this effort and put a few wins together. The pucks went in for some reason. We've had games where we had tons of shots and scoring chances when they didn't go in. They did tonight, finally."

Avalanche coach Joe Sacco did some more line juggling, putting Hejduk on a unit with rookie Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O'Reilly. The trio combined for two goals, four assists and a plus-8 rating.

"It was nice. We found the net and all of us were on the board," said O'Reilly, whose early third-period goal ended a 12-game drought. "Everyone was going well. Hedgie, he's an amazing person to play with; Landeskog, too. Just get those guys the puck and go to the net."

The Avalanche only took 25 shots but did a much more effective job of getting in Brodeur's face than they had against other goalies in previous games.

"Most of the goals we scored, we had some traffic so he couldn't see the puck," Hejduk said. "Last home game (a 3-1 loss to Dallas on Monday) we had 36 shots, but a lot of them were from outside and we didn't have any traffic. We tried to work on it, get more inside."


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Said defenseman Kyle Quincey: "We didn't reinvent the wheel. We just won our battles and got a lot of bounces our way and got our speed going. Things were clicking."

The Devils cut the lead to 3-1 at 11:03 of the second period on a goal by Ilya Kovalchuck, but the Avalanche killed off a Quincey slashing penalty that carried into the third period and followed with three goals to turn the game into a rout.

O'Reilly scored at 2:47 after pursuing Anton Volchenkov behind the New Jersey net. Hejduk jarred the puck loose with a hit on Volchenkov, O'Reilly scooped it up, circled in front and shot the puck in off Brodeur.

"First and foremost, we had to kill off that penalty, which we did, and that gave us some momentum," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "And Ryan made a nice play walking out of the corner to score the goal. There's always big moments during the course of a game that you talk about. That was a big goal."

Jay McClement's shorthanded goal at 10:32 increased the advantage to 5-1 and rookie defenseman Stefan Elliott closed out the scoring at 17:17 with a shot from the right point that sailed by Brodeur's glove.

"It's something to build on," Sacco said. "Certainly it's something we can take with us moving into our next game (Friday against St. Louis). We also gave up one goal and allowed (19) shots against. We're taking pride in our defensive play, but offensively certainly we can build some confidence around that."

Hejduk, who had gone seven games without a goal since being named team captain, opened the scoring at 7:37 of the opening period with a shot from the left circle off a pass from O’Reilly in the slot with Paul Stastny setting a screen.

Galiardi, centering the fourth line, stole the puck from Devils defenseman Henrik Tallinder behind the net and scored on a wraparound at 14:14. It was Galiardi’s first goal since Oct. 12 in the third game of the season.

"It seemed like it had been forever, the longest drought of my life," Galiardi said. "Hopefully it's good from here on and they come in bunches."

It was Hejda's turn at 16:02. Matt Duchene passed to him just inside the blue line for his second goal in three games and third of the season. Hejda, who began the night with a minus-16 rating, logged a team-high 23:18 in ice time and was a plus-3.

This hardly was the way the Devils wanted to open a four-game road trip that includes visits to Minnesota, Winnipeg and Toronto.

"The first period was a bad period for us," Devils captain Zach Parise said. "We just got outworked all over the rink. We were getting stripped of the puck all the time. We couldn't get out of our zone and they were winning every single race to the puck. Next thing we know, we are down 3-0."

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