DENVER (AP) - Peter Budaj raised his stick in the air for a brief moment, accepted congratulations from teammates for a quick second, acknowledged the applause for an instant and then skated off the ice.
The Colorado Avalanche goalie didn't want to dwell too much on his second shutout of the season in a 2-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night. After all, it was just two days earlier he was pulled for allowing four goals in 26 minutes against Dallas. This was just the second Avalanche win in six games.
"We can't get too high," said Budaj, who had 39 saves.
Budaj knows Colorado has plenty of work to do to climb back into the playoff picture. The team is still eight points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Avalanche have never missed the playoffs since moving to Colorado in 1995.
"We've got to build on that," he said.
Budaj's confidence, like that of the Avalanche, has been restored following the 7-5 defeat to the Stars.
"We really bounced back after a tough loss to Dallas," said Budaj, who has four career shutouts, including a 3-0 win over Columbus on Nov. 17. "We did what we were talking about. We were talking about starts to the game and we can't fall behind early."
In its previous three games, Colorado had been outscored 8-2 in the first period.
But Milan Hejduk staked the Avalanche to a 1-0 lead after the first with his 18th goal of the season. He also assisted on Paul Stastny's 18th in the second period.
The way Budaj was playing, the two-goal cushion was more than enough.
"When you get strong goaltending like that your chances of winning are enhanced tremendously," Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said. "There was a little frustration built up after the last few games, and I think we had a nice approach to our overall game."
The Ducks' high-powered offence has suddenly turned nonexistent as they dropped their third straight. They're averaging 3.21 goals a game, but haven't scored in two contests - going 139:16 without finding the net.
"The guys in the dressing room have to turn it around," forward Teemu Selanne said. "We had a good chance, because we moved the puck pretty well, but I think their goalie was hot. We need more confidence to score right now, and it's a little frustrating."
Selanne was given a misconduct in the final seconds of the game. He was frustrated because the Ducks were called for two penalties for having too many men on the ice.
"I am expecting the team to do the best, I expect the referees to do their best, too," Selanne ranted. "If one guy can't see the whole play, there is three other guys there. Four guys miss the call, you have a problem there. My penalty, personally, I just couldn't believe. I'm not in the game. He called that penalty and I am like, 'What is going on in this league?' It's frustrating."
Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said the reason behind the loss wasn't hard to figure out.
"We had all kinds of opportunities, but we couldn't find a way to get a puck by Budaj," Carlyle said.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere finished with 27 saves.
Andrew Brunette, Joe Sakic and Jordan Leopold all had assists for Colorado.
"We played better defence, we didn't give them that much, and what we did give them, Peter made great saves," said Hejduk, who turns 31 on Wednesday. "Good team effort and a much-needed win."
Yet there's plenty of work ahead for Colorado, 3-0 against Anaheim this season.
"We'll look to get momentum one game at a time," Quenneville said.
Notes: Quenneville gave struggling RW Marek Svatos the night off. Svatos has only two goals since the beginning of December. ... The Avalanche will play 14 of 19 on the road. ... Giguere is 14-6 in his last 20 starts. ... In two games against Anaheim this season, Budaj has stopped 77 of 79 shots.