DENVER - Jose Theodore has gone from MVP to backup goalie.
On Tuesday night, he showed he still has what it takes to be a No. 1 netminder. Theodore, who relieved Peter Budaj after Colorado fell behind by four goals, stopped all 17 shots he faced in regulation and overtime to lead the Avalanche to a 5-4 shootout victory over the Calgary Flames.
"When you get in, it's never easy, you're not as warmed up," said Theodore, who is 4-1 in shootouts in his career. "I was trying to keep it simple, give my team a chance to win, and they showed a lot of character coming back."
Ryan Smyth had a goal and an assist, then scored the decisive goal in the shootout.
Jarome Iginla, who had two goals and an assist, had Calgary's only goal in the shootout.
"We had them," Iginla said. "We had them on the ropes and took our foot off the pedal. We picked up our foot and let them back in the game."
The Flames went up 4-0 on Iginla's second goal of the game 2:50 into the second period. Iginla took a pass from Alex Tanguay, blew by defenceman Brett Clark and beat Budaj with a high shot. That ended Budaj's night and brought on Theodore, who was the NHL's MVP with Montreal in 2001-02.
"I wasn't blaming the goalie, but you're down 4-0, you want to do something to change the flow of the game," Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville said. "Down 4-0, it was an easy time to make a change."
And the Avalanche started their comeback with help from the Flames. Three of Colorado's four goals banked off Calgary players, starting after Marek Svatos deflected a pass from Smyth from the left circle 13 seconds after Iginla had made it 4-0.
Colorado made it 4-2 when Calgary defenceman Anders Eriksson kicked a rebound of a shot by Smyth past a sprawling Miikka Kiprusoff midway through the second period. Andrew Brunette's pass toward the net hit off defenceman Adrian Aucoin's skate and went in to make it 4-3 just 2:32 later.
Avalanche defenceman Kurt Sauer tied the game with 3:38 left in the second period with a shot from the point that was tipped by Eriksson.
"We let up and made some critical mistakes," Flames coach Mike Keenan said. "The forwards turned the puck over three times in our end and they wound up in our net."
Midway through the third period, Colorado nearly took the lead on a 3-on-1 rush, but Kiprusoff made a great glove save on Ian Laperriere.
The Flames appeared to be in control with a 3-0 lead after the first period. Defenceman Dion Phaneuf made it 1-0 lead 6:54 into the game. Forty-eight seconds later, Marcus Nilson's backhander went off defenceman John-Michael Liles as he slid into Budaj, and the puck slipped between the goalie's leg pad and the post to make it 2-0.
Iginla made it 3-0 when Joe Sakic's lazy pass toward Scott Hannan drifted in front of the Colorado net. Iginla picked up the puck and beat Budaj with a wrist shot with 1:03 left in the first period.
"It's important that we play a full 60 minutes and we didn't do that today," said Smyth, who tied a franchise record with 11 shots on goal. "It wasn't what we had in mind, but we'll sure take it any way we can."
Kiprusoff made 31 saves.
Notes: Avalanche RW Milan Hejduk was scratched because of a sore back. The team said he is day to day. ... The Flames had lost four straight to Colorado. Their last victory over the Avalanche was a 5-2 win in Calgary on Feb. 17.