By Dave Vest
DENVER – The Coyotes sidestepped the hottest goalie in the NHL on Wednesday night. Instead, they faced his backup and struggled to get the puck past him.
Peter Budaj, who recently recovered from the swine fiu, made 28 saves in his first game of the season to lead the Colorado Avalanche to a 4-1 victory over Phoenix at the Pepsi Center.
Defenseman Ed Jovanovski scored a power-play goal for Phoenix (9-6-0), which has lost two games in a row after a three-game winning streak.
Milan Hejduk scored twice and Paul Stastny had three assists for the Avalanche (11-3-2), which rested starting goalie Craig Anderson for the first time in16 games. Anderson posted 10 victories in October and was named the NHL’s First Star of the Month.
Budaj was stingy on Wednesday, especially late in the third period when the Coyotes played with more urgency. Phoenix forward Matthew Lombardi had multiple scoring chances late in the game but Budaj didn't buckle.
"We've got to score more goals," Lombardi said. "One goal a game isn't going to make it for us. It's not easy scoring goals but we've got guys in here that can do it. We've just got to get a little more hungry and capitalize on our chances."
Coyotes forward Daniel Winnik was called for delay of game 32 seconds into the first period. The Avalanche needed just 25 seconds to take a 1-0 lead. Hejduk beat Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov from in close after a nice feed from Kyle Quincey at 0:57.
Colorado upped its lead to 2-0 at 6:43 of the third period when Marek Svatos lifted a loose puck on the left side of the Phoenix goal over Bryzgalov and into the net.
Jovanovski netted his goal at 9:52 of the third period when he launched a shot from just inside the blue line and it ricocheted off one of Quincey's skates and past Budaj at 9:52 to pull Phoenix to within 2-1.
Colorado scored its final two goals within the final minute of the game. One goal, by David Jones, was an empty-netter.
Leading 2-1 late in the third period, Colorado's Marek Svatos was called for tripping to give Phoenix a power play. Nearly halfway through the man advantage, however, Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski was called for cross-checking to end the advantage.
• Coyotes forward Robert Lang won 14 of 18 faceoffs. As a team, the Coyotes won 62 percent of the draws.
• Phoenix forward Peter Mueller returned to the lineup after two games as a healthy scratch. Mueller played 15:03 and took four shots. Three of those shots were blocked. Meanwhile, forward Mikkel Boedker also returned to the Coyotes lineup after being recalled from the AHL on Tuesday. Boedker payed 11:24.
• Phoenix scratched Paul Bissonnette and Scottie Upshall, who suffered a lower-body injury in Monday's game vs. Los Angeles. Colorado's scratches were Chris Durno, Brian Willsie and Ryan Wilson.
• The game was played in front of 11,012 spectators. It was the smallest home crowd in Avalanche history.
"It was a very lackluster effort on our part for probably the better part of two periods... We've got to be ready to start games."
"We were playing on our heels right from the beginning. ... When you play a team like Colorado, who's playing well, it's tough to turn that around."
"I felt great and the communication was great. After a couple of saves you relax, you know you've been the