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Alex Tanguay scores twice, Calvin Pickard makes 28 saves as Avalanche beat Sabres 5-1

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BUFFALO, New York — Calvin Pickard backstopped the Colorado Avalanche to their most complete victory of the season.

The 22-year-old rookie keeps turning heads in the Avalanche dressing room, this time leading Colorado to a 5-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night.

"He deserves a lot of credit," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "He competes hard out there. In the first he made three very good saves look pretty easy."

Alex Tanguay scored a pair of goals to help Colorado snap its two-game skid. Afterward, he praised Pickard.

"He's come here, he's battled and he's given us a chance every night to win," Tanguay said. "He's been nothing but spectacular."

Colorado also got goals from Cody McLeod, John Mitchell and Erik Johnson. Mitchell and Tanguay added assists, and Jarome Iginla had three.

Last-minute call-up Johan Larsson scored his first NHL goal for the Sabres, who had won six straight home games.

Colorado has won its last eight against Buffalo dating to 2005, and jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Johnson's goal 2:23 into the game.

Larsson nearly tied it when he got free in the slot, but his quick wrist shot was scooped by Pickard.

The Sabres had several chances to tie the game during their first power play, but Pickard made a number of saves, including an in-close stop of Zemgus Girgensons.

"I'm feeling comfortable, more and more so," said Pickard, who is 5-5-2. "It's nice playing every game. I thought I had a good outing in Pittsburgh, too, and I just wanted to build off that."

Colorado picked up a short-handed goal moments later when Ryan O'Reilly found McLeod on a 3-on-2 to make it 2-0 at 7:07.

"We skated, we moved the puck and we used our best tool, which is our speed," Tanguay said.

PHOTO: Buffalo Sabres center Jhonas Enroth (63) battles for the puck with Colorado Avalanche right winger Jarome Iginla (12) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)
Buffalo Sabres center Jhonas Enroth (63) battles for the puck with Colorado Avalanche right winger Jarome Iginla (12) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)

It was Buffalo's fifth short-handed goal allowed this season, tied for the highest total in the NHL.

Colorado skated into the dressing room with a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.

"Best first period we've had all year," Johnson said. "Kind of, foot off the gas a little bit in the second."

That's when Pickard shined brightest, making 10 saves.

"When we're playing with the lead all game, you're going to be called upon a few times each period and I just wanted to be solid for the guys," Pickard said.

Colorado got its third goal 1:51 into the third when Iginla sent a cross-ice pass to a wide-open Tanguay, who beat a sliding Jhonas Enroth over the left shoulder.

Mitchell beat Enroth between the legs at the 5:09 mark.

"They're a very skilled team," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. "If you give them a chance, they're going to put them in."

Larsson, who said he arrived from Rochester "with two minutes left in warmups", one-timed Chris Stewart's pass into the net, ruining Pickard's shutout hopes with 6:33 to play.

"Disappointed we couldn't get the shutout for Pickard. That stings a lot, but really good group effort," Johnson said.

Nolan pulled Enroth with nearly four minutes remaining, and Buffalo drew a penalty with the man advantage. Pickard held strong, however, including a glove save on Tyler Ennis.

Buffalo lost Patrick Kaleta in the first period and Tyler Myers in the second, finishing the game with 16 available skaters. Myers is questionable for Saturday's game in Boston, while Kaleta won't travel to Boston due to an illness.

Enroth made 18 saves in the loss.

NOTES: Buffalo had to call up Mikhail Grigorenko from Rochester on Saturday morning when Torrey Mitchell was deemed unfit to play, and then recalled Larsson just before game time after Matt Moulson fell ill. ... The Sabres went 0 for 4 on the power play. ... It was Larsson's 34th NHL game. He's played 33 with Buffalo and one with Minnesota.

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Photo Gallery:
PHOTO: Colorado Avalanche left winger Cody McLeod (55) scores a short-handed goal on Buffalo Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth (1), of Sweden, during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)
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