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Avalanche Top Canadiens

Young players have stepped up in Peter Forsberg's absence for the Colorado Avalanche, and first among them is Milan Hejduk.

The Czech right wing scored his fifth and sixth goals of the season and Patrick Roy made 25 saves as the Avalanche defeated the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 Wednesday night.

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  • "I feel more comfortable this year," said Hejduk, who finished second to teammate Chris Drury in rookie of the year voting last season. "My conditioning's better and I'm playing with more confidence."

    It doesn't hurt that he's been put on a line with star center Joe Sakic. The other forward is rookie Alex Tanguay, who is a Calder Trophy candidate this season.

    "I like playing with Joe," said Hejduk, 23. "I don't know if he likes playing with me, but he's a great player and so is Alex. Our game is a lot of passing and that's what I like."

    Forsberg will be out until at least late November because of a shoulder injury. The Avalanche improved to 4-2-2 with a win in the opener of a five-game road trip.

    Brian Savage, with his ninth goal in as many games, scored a power-play goal in the third period for Montreal. But Roy made some big saves late in the game to preserve the win.

    "Roy is tough to score against," Savage said. "Even when you get rebounds, he gets back square to the shooter."

    Roy, who led Montreal to Stanley Cups in 1986 an 1993, improved to 5-1-1 against the team that dealt him to Colorado on Dec. 6, 1995.

    "I just wanted to come in here and play a solid game," said Roy, who has allowed only 14 goals in seven starts this season. "I thought I hadn't played a really solid game this year.

    "I mean, I played good, but not as good as tonight."

    Jose Theodore, starting in place of the injured Jeff Hackett, faced 19 Avalanche shots.

    The injury-wracked Canadiens had three rookies on defense, including Stephane Robidas in his NHL debut. Hours before the game, Montreal acquired defenseman Karl Dykhuis from Philadelphia for future considerations, but he didn't arrive in time to play.

    Colorado opened the scoring when Hejduk blocked a pass at the Montreal blue line and skated around Eric Weinrich to beat Theodore unassisted 16:13 into the game.

    Joe Sakic fed Hejduk in the slot on a power play and saw him go around Igor Ulanov and beat Theodore high to the glove side 5:03 into the second period.

    Roy appeared headed for his first shutout against Montreal until Sandis Ozolinsh was sent off for tripping in the third period. Savage beat teammate Martin Rucinsky to a goal-mouth rebound to score into an open side at 10:56.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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