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Bruins stumble again on road; Rookie goalie stifles offense.

Byline: John Marshall

DENVER - Vitaly Kolesnik had the kind of game that could lead to a shakeup for the Colorado Avalanche.

Kolesnik stopped 20 shots in his NHL debut, and Alex Tanguay had a goal for the third straight game and added two assists to lift the Avalanche to a 4-1 victory over the struggling Boston Bruins last night.

Frustrated with the spotty play of goalies David Aebischer and Peter Budaj, the Avalanche called up Kolesnik on Tuesday and wasted no time putting him between the pipes.

The 26-year-old player from Kazakhstan was solid, keeping good position in the crease, knocking down some tough chances through traffic and controlling rebounds - playing the kind of game that could make things interesting in Denver over the next week or so.

"It's in everybody's interest in our sport that you've got to overcome a lot of obstacles to get opportunities," Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville said. "The guys who can persevere and can handle it usually rise to the occasion. We're looking at a very interesting position at goaltending. The importance of it, we feel all three of them have the character to handle the situation."

Aebischer, Colorado's top goalie to start the season, has a 3.37 goals-against average and was pulled after allowing four goals on 16 shots in the first period of a 6-4 loss to Buffalo on Sunday.

Budaj, a rookie, is 3-4-3 with a .904 save percentage, 0-3 in shootouts and has yet to win in four games at home.

Bringing up Kolesnik could be a sign that the Avalanche are looking to make a deal or it could just be that Quenneville and the front office are looking to spark Aebischer and Budaj.

Either way, Kolesnik played great.

He was particularly good during a power play midway through the first period, smothering a hard shot from the top with his body, gloving another from the left circle and sticking his skate out just in time to block a rebound. Boston's only goal came with 27 seconds left in the first period, when Marco Sturm slipped behind Colorado's defense for a breakaway and scored off a rebound that tied it at 1-all.

But that was it.

Milan Hejduk, Brett McLean and John-Michael Liles added goals, and Colorado's defense allowed 10 shots over the final two periods to make things easy on Kolesnik in the Avalanche's fourth win in six games.

"I thought he played a great game," said Colorado's Joe Sakic, who had two assists to extend his point streak to seven games. "He's a big kid. You don't see a lot of room in the net with him."

Boston got a spark after trading Joe Thornton to San Jose for Sturm, Wayne Primeau and Brad Stuart last week, winning two of its first three games without its former captain.

It didn't last long. The Bruins went back to their inconsistent ways against the Avalanche, giving away too many pucks in their own zone, losing the battles along the boards and taking penalties at inopportune times to lose for the 11th time in 14 games.

"We didn't give ourselves a chance all night," Bruins coach Mike Sullivan said. "We're fighting for our lives here and to have that kind of approach tonight is disappointing."




CUTLINE: Bruins left winger Marco Sturm, right, scores past Avalanche goalie Vitaly Kolesnik during the first period last night.
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Dec 8, 2005
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