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Al Montoya earns the shutout in his NHL debut against the Avalanche

DENVER - Al Montoya sure didn't look like a guy making his NHL debut.

Montoya made 23 saves to earn a shutout, Mikkel Boedker and Shane Doan scored a goal each, and the Phoenix Coyotes beat the reeling Colorado Avalanche 3-0 on Wednesday night. "I couldn't let this feel like my first game," Montoya said. "I had to play it like I've been here before. That's the attitude I came with."

Montoya, recalled from the AHL on March 23, led the Coyotes to their third win in four games. He faced only five shots in the first period and three in the third but came up with the big saves when needed.

"I thought early in the game he made a couple of key saves. It was a real solid effort for a guy playing his first NHL game," Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. "Good for him. Hopefully this is something good to go from here."

Boedker gave Phoenix the early lead with his 11th goal. He picked up the loose puck out of a scrum in front, moved to his left, and wristed a shot past goalie Andrew Raycroft 6:28 into the game.

Doan scored his 30th goal of the season with 12:43 left, and Zbynek Michalek added an empty-netter with 2.2 seconds remaining.

It wasn't until Michalek's goal that Montoya relaxed and enjoyed the shutout.

"Not until the last three seconds when we scored," he said. "It's unreal to get the win, but at the same time it's icing on the top."

Raycroft had 32 saves for the Avalanche, who have lost eight straight.

"It definitely has been a different experience than in the past," said Milan Hejduk, one of three players left from Colorado's 2001 Stanley Cup championship team. "It has been difficult for me. I can't picture this team having losing streaks like other teams."

Colorado, the last-place team in the Western Conference, hopes to have captain Joe Sakic back before the end of the season. Sakic, who has missed 62 games with back and hand injuries, said Wednesday he is still trying to get the strength back in his leg after surgery in January to repair a herniated disk.

"I just want to be able to try to come back," said the 39-year-old forward, who recently returned to the ice but has yet to go through a contact practice. "Where the future stands, I'm not too sure."

Sakic was one of eight regular players out of the lineup against Phoenix, and the news got worse for Colorado. Forward Ryan Smyth injured a hand in the first period. Smyth, who leads the team with 59 points, is one of two Avalanche players to play in all 77 games this season.

He doesn't know yet if he can play Sunday in Vancouver.

"I got it jammed in the first period," he said. "I don't know much more."

For Colorado, it's another in a long series of setbacks this season.

"The injuries keep coming," Avalanche coach Tony Granato said. "It seems like it's a repeating part of what I tell you after the games lately. I've never been around a team with so many injuries."

It has added up to a disappointing season for the Avalanche, whose eight-game losing streak matches the franchise's longest, set in January 1992.

The Avalanche's last home win came March 12 against Minnesota, a span of four games. They will finish below .500 for the first time since 1993-94, when they were the Quebec Nordiques - one season before the team moved to Colorado. The Avalanche have been outscored 36-10 during their losing streak, including 22-4 at home.

Notes: The last goalie to post a shutout in his NHL debut was Dallas' Mike Smith, who blanked the Coyotes 4-0 on Oct. 21, 2006. ... Avalanche F Wojtek Wolski (undisclosed illness) missed his third straight game. ... The Avalanche were shut out for the ninth time this season. ... Doan reached the 30-goal mark for the second time in his 13-year career.



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