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Flames 3, Avalanche 2, SO @NHL

DENVER (AP) - Knowing he wouldn't play much in Colorado, the Avalanche traded promising goalie Philippe Sauve away to give him an opportunity to shine elsewhere. Elsewhere turned out to be Calgary, and on Monday, the Avalanche had reason to regret that deal.

Sauve stopped all three of Colorado's shots in a shootout to help the Flames to a 3-2 victory over the Avalanche, the team that picked the goalie in the second round of the 1998 draft.

"I don't get up any more for them," Sauve said. "It's a game like every other one. You can't look at who is on the other side."

It's hard not to, though, in a shootout.

Sauve stopped an impressive group - Joe Sakic, Milan Hejduk and Alex Tanguay. Tanguay tried to jam one between Sauve and the goalpost to tie things after Tony Amonte beat Peter Budaj for the only goal of the shootout.

"He's a great goalie," Sakic said. "He played well for us when he had his opportunity. He's played well for them."

Indeed, it was a dazzling performance for the 25-year-old goalie, a product of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Sauve earned the start after coach Darryl Sutter decided he wasn't really happy with Miikka Kiprusoff's performance last Friday in a 5-2 loss to Chicago that snapped Calgary's eight-game winning streak.

The way Sutter sounded, it might not be Sauve's last start, either.

"It was a group decision to start the other guy," Sutter said, declining to utter Kiprusoff's name. "But the other guy wasn't very sharp against Chicago and I changed my mind this morning. I told Phil it was his start when he came to the rink."

Sauve's success comes, oddly enough, just as the Avalanche are running into problems at the goalie position.

It was, in fact, David Aebischer's solid play that made Sauve expendable last summer. But now Aebischer is struggling.

Budaj started in Aebischer's place for the third time in four games. By luck of the draw, Budaj has been on the ice for the Avs in all three games that have been tied after overtime. He has lost all three but still looked sharp in this one, finishing with 32 saves and not allowing a bad goal.

"I haven't been doing anything different," Budaj said. "I'm doing the same things, and still working hard in practices, and whenever I get a chance to play, I want to deserve my chance. So I play well, and hopefully Coach will trust me."

Defenseman Jordan Leopold beat the Avs defense for his first goal of the season at 5:36 of the first period, then Craig MacDonald took a snappy pass from Leopold for a power-play goal to give the Flames a 2-0 lead.

After managing only five shots in the first, the Avs picked things up in the second. Their first goal was credited to Pierre Turgeon, whose centering pass from behind the net hit a defender's skate and ricocheted in.

In the third, Brad May and Rob Blake started a 2-on-1 rush at the Calgary blue line. May made a nice pass to Blake's backhand and he stuffed the puck into the net to tie it at 2.

Still, it couldn't take away from the fine performance by Sauve, who improved to 2-1 and did it by withstanding the most extreme of circumstances - an NHL shootout.

None of Colorado's shots really had a chance. Sauve stymied Sakic's backhand shot to start, then deflected Hejduk's try over the net. Then came Tanguay's try, a shot that never really left the ice or came close to the goal line, either.

"Whenever I do get out there I want to prove I can do some good things for this club," Sauve said.

On Monday, neither the team he plays for nor the one that traded him could deny he accomplished that goal.

Notes: Avs D Brett Clark was a late scratch because of the flu. ... The Flames improved to 9-1 in November.

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