Avs mission: Chilling hot goalie

May 9, 2006 2:11 AM

Two games, two losses and no goals against a red hot rookie goaltender. Colorado is halfway to calling for tee times.

Ilya Byrzgalov are the two dirtiest words in Denver as the Stanley Cup Western Conference semifinal series shifts to Denver for Tuesday night’s key Game 3.

"It’s now or never for Colorado," said Jason Been, NHL analyst and oddsmaker at Las Vegas Sports Consultants in assessing the best 4-of-7 series. "Byrzgalov has something like 230 minutes without allowing a goal. Hot goalies come along almost every year in the playoffs and this is another example."

However, it is rare that a raw rookie is thrown into the fire late in the year and carries a team on his back the way Byrzgalov as for the Mighty Ducks. It’s shades of Ken Dryden some 40 years ago as a late-season rookie for Montreal, who led the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup, then won Rookie of the Year honors the following season.

"Colorado did not play that badly on defense in Game 2," Been said. "I don’t think they had a letdown after beating Dallas in the first round. The Avs just have to find a way to score."

With Game 3 basically an elimination game for the Avs, Been believes the line will be as high as -150 for the home side when the puck is dropped at the Pepsi Center.

"Should the Avs win Game 3, I think you will see Game 4 about the same with Colorado around a -150 favorite," Been said. "If Anaheim should win Game 3, I see the line even or perhaps the Ducks a slight favorite, like -110."