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Old 10-26-2008, 11:44 AM   #374
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Default Avalanche report: Deep scoring

Ian Laperriere didn't receive a congratulatory phone call from Gordie Howe after collecting the fourth Gordie Howe hat trick - a goal, assist and fight - of his career in Thursday's game against Edmonton.

"But it's always good to show the depth we have on our team," he said.

The Avalanche has scored 28 goals in seven games, and so-called grinders like Laperriere, Ben Guite, Cody McCormick and Cody McLeod have combined for six of them while adding five assists.

McLeod, who scored four goals in 49 games as a rookie, is third on the team with three goals, right behind Milan Hejduk and Ryan Smyth.

"Everybody can chip in," Laperriere said. "Obviously, it's not our job; we're not out there to score goals. But every time we do, it's a bonus for the team. It feels great, especially when you win the game."

Laperriere said he's looking forward to playing against the Sabres, who have outscored opponents 26-13 in the first seven games.

"They've got a heck of a goalie and four great lines," he said. "It's a good challenge for us and we welcome that. You want to see where your team's at and there's no better way than to play the best team in the league right now."

Said Granato: "They're a fast-skating, fast-paced team. They're kind of similar to us, so it should be an exciting matchup. I haven't seen a whole lot of their games. But what I've seen is they're a very disciplined team, one that uses their speed well and obviously a team that has great goaltending."

Jones may play

Right wing David Jones practiced Friday and said he feels up to playing tonight after missing Thursday's game because of an illness. He played Monday in Los Angeles and got sick after arriving home.

Budaj back in net

Peter Budaj will be back in goal for the Avalanche, seeking his third win in a row. He stopped 51-of-55 shots in his past two starts to lower his goals-against average to 3.42 and raise his saves percentage to .868.

"He looks like Peter again," Granato said. "He looks like the Peter we thought we were going to see. (Thursday) night he had to make some big saves for us. It looks like he's back in his rhythm."
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