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Porter gets a pair as Avs blank Stars 5-0

by Rick Sadowski
DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche relied on several unlikely sources to defeat the Dallas Stars 5-0 Saturday night at the Pepsi Center.

Fourth-liners Kevin Porter, Philippe Dupuis and David Van Der Gulik accounted for three goals and three assists, ample support for goalie Peter Budaj, who turned aside 31 shots for his ninth career shutout.

"Not every night are your top lines going to be scoring," said Budaj, whose 90th career win moved him into sole possession of third place in Quebec/Colorado franchise history, behind Patrick Roy and Daniel Bouchard. "That's the depth that you want to have, the confidence you want to have in your third and fourth lines. They worked really hard and it was great to see them get rewarded."

Porter, recalled from Lake Erie in the American Hockey League because David Jones is sidelined with a hand injury, scored his first two goals of the season. Dupuis netted his first career NHL goal and added two assists.

"I'm really excited, really happy with the way I played," Porter said. "I don't think anyone expected this, even us. We just wanted to play well defensively, get pucks deep and have a lot of energy for the team. I thought we did that, and we created some scoring chances. This was one of the most fun games I've played in a while."

Aside from the points, the Porter-Dupuis-Van Der Gulik unit combined for 11 of the Avalanche's 41 shots and a plus-8 rating.

"Good for those guys," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "They work hard all the time and sometimes they don't get a lot of credit. A lot of the work they do doesn't necessarily show up on the score sheet most nights.

"So for those guys to chip in like they did offensively was a big boost for our team. I know that all the other players are very excited for those guys."
The line provided plenty of emotion and energy, qualities the Avalanche lacked Thursday in a listless 3-1 loss to Vancouver.

"We responded well tonight, like we've done a lot of times in the past," Sacco said.

The Avalanche also got a goal and an assist each from Milan Hejduk and Brandon Yip, and two assists from Matt Duchene.

"This is how the League is right now," said Stars defenseman Nicklas Grossman, whose team had outscored opponents 15-5 during a three-game winning streak. "There are no easy games out there. You have to work for everything."

The Avalanche put the game away early in the third period when Porter and Yip scored 31 seconds apart for a 5-0 lead.

Porter scored into an empty net at 5:39 after Dupuis intercepted Stars defenseman Jeff Woywitka's pass in the Dallas end. Goalie Andrew Raycroft poked the puck away from Dupuis, but it bounced to a wide-open Porter.

"It was a weird play. I thought the pass was going to be a little bit harder," Dupuis said of the turnover. "I was kind of shocked. I think he missed his pass or whatever."

Yip followed at 6:10, driving to the net to redirect Duchene's pass behind Raycroft.

Hejduk and Dupuis scored second-period goals to give the Avalanche a 3-0 lead.

Hejduk netted his first goal in five games at 4:53 with a high backhander over the prone Raycroft after Duchene's attempted wraparound was deflected into the slot.

Dupuis, who assisted on Porter's first goal in the opening period, netted the first of his career at 13:04 while the Avalanche were shorthanded.

Scott Hannan nudged the puck ahead to Dupuis, who gained a step on Stars forward Brad Richards, who fell in pursuit. Dupuis continued down right wing on a two-on-one rush with Porter and wired a shot that beat Raycroft high to the short side.

"It was surreal," Dupuis said. "I really didn't play on the PK so far this season, so it was one of my first shifts doing it. Richards went down, so we had a two-on-one and I saw the D-man was going down. I knew I had to shoot and the short side was open. I was trying for the corner and I got lucky."

It was the first shorthanded goal this season for the Avalanche, who allowed 10 goals in 23 shorthanded situations in the previous six games.

Colorado killed all three of Dallas' man advantages, the first time since a 3-1 road win Oct. 18 against the New York Rangers that it didn't permit a power-play goal.

"The penalty killing is an area that we continue to focus on," Sacco said. "We put some good time into it this morning with a couple of meetings and I thought the players responded very well. That's a step in the right direction for us."

Porter opened the scoring at 10:02 of the first period after a faceoff in the left circle. Van Der Gulik, who scored his first NHL goal Thursday, took two shots that Raycroft stopped before Porter swept the puck into a half-open net.

The Avalanche played with three rookie defensemen -- Colby Cohen, who made his NHL debut, Kevin Shattenkirk and Jonas Holos.

"Any time you are able to shut out any team in this League, it says a lot about your team defense and it says a lot about the group we had back there," Sacco said. "I thought they stepped up and did a fine job tonight."
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