Craig Anderson made 41 saves and Chris Stewart had a goal and an assist to lead the Colorado Avalanche to a 3-2 victory over the slumping New Jersey Devils on Friday night.
Anderson had 17 of his saves the first period and tough-guy Cody McLeod and T.J. Galiardi added goals to help the Avalanche win for the third time in four games.
"It's just one of those nights that you just try to be big at times and when you're reading and reacting to the play you're in position and the game looks easy," Anderson said. "I think sometimes guys make spectacular saves because they get out of position. We're all pretty agile to make desperation saves, but sometimes when a goalie looks like he's not working very hard it's because he's working very smart."
Rookie Matt Taormina scored his first NHL goal and assisted on Ilya Kovalchuk's third-period tally for the offensively challenged Devils, who have nine goals and three points in five games (1-3-1).
The Avalanche improved to 3-1.
Anderson, who led NHL goaltenders in shots faced and saves last season, kept the Avalanche in the game in the one-sided first period that saw McLeod score late in a four-minute power play and then get kicked out of the game 22 seconds later with a major boarding penalty.
"He seems like the kind of guy, the more shots he gets on him, the better he plays," said Galiardi. "He's been that way for a while and it just brings another element to your team when you can count on a goalie like that."
During that five-minute power play, Anderson stopped at least a half dozen great chances by the Devils and also got a little lucky. A tip by Zach Parise slid just wide of the net and Dainius Zubrus failed to slam a puck into an open net after skating around Anderson in front.
"I think, we take a lot of shots and maybe we need to create a little more traffic in front of the net," Kovalchuk added. "That's how we scored the first goal. Zach was in front and he didn't see anything. Still, we got a lot of shots, just two goals. We've got to be much better."
Galiardi gave Colorado some breathing room in the second period, shovelling the rebound of Stewart's blast from the left circle into the top corner of the net for a 2-0 lead.
Taormina closed the gap to 2-1 three minutes later with a power-play shot from straight on with Parise providing a screen in front.
Stewart, who led Colorado with 28 goals in their surprising run to the playoffs last year, got his second of the year early in the third period with a slap shot from the right face-off circle that whizzed over the shoulder of Martin Brodeur, who made 19 saves.
Kovalchuk, who signed a high-publicized 15-year, $100 million US contract in the off-season that has caused some salary cap and roster problems for New Jersey, got his second of the season with 11:11 to play.
Anderson maintained the lead the rest of the way, stopping a deflection by Patrik Elias with 5:45 to go and a point shot by Henrik Tallinder with 3:40 left. He also stopped blasts by Kovalchuk and Elias in the final minute when Brodeur was pulled for an extra skater.
Despite being outshot 17-3 in the first period, the Avalanche took a 1-0 when McLeod, who has had at least 100 minutes in penalties in his first three seasons, beat Brodeur to the short side with a shot from the left face-off circle at 11:50.
Twenty-two seconds later, McLeod was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for boarding Taormina.
Jacob Josefson, the 19-year-old Swedish centre who was the Devils' first-round draft pick in 2009, made his NHL debut.