Sakic forces OT, scores in shootout as Avalanche shade Canucks 3-2

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VANCOUVER - Joe Sakic made up for lost time just in the nick of time Wednesday night.

Sakic, who missed 38 games because of a hernia, scored with 14.7 seconds left in the third period and added a key shootout marker as the Colorado Avalanche edged the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 in a battle between Northwest Division clubs. "The two points were huge," said Sakic after the Avalanche posted their second win in two nights. "It's two games in a row we've fought back to tie it. It was just a tight hockey game."

The win followed Colorado's victory by an identical 3-2 count over Calgary. Andrew Brunette also scored for the Avs in regulation as Colorado (33-26-7) moved into an eighth-place tie with Nashville in the Western Conference.

Mason Raymond and Alex Burrows answered for the Canucks (33-22-9), who saw their winning streak end at four games. The Canucks are just one point ahead of Colorado in seventh place.

Vancouver was blanked on its two shootout attempts before Svatos scored on Colorado's final try to clinch the victory.

"I think we deserved better," said Burrows, whose club outshot the Avs 31-26.

Sakic's 618th career goal sent the game to overtime, as the Avalanche captain put a backhander past Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo with defenceman Willie Mitchell literally on his back.

"It was a scramble, that's for sure," said Sakic, who grew up in the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby but has been limited to three games against the Canucks this season. "Unfortunately for us we gave up that one (Burrows') goal and we could have easily lost that game so it was nice to get that goal."

Luongo lamented the loss of a full two points he felt his team should have had.

"We had about six chances to get it out," said Luongo. "Either we shot it off our own guys or we didn't get it out. The next thing you know, a shot from the point and Sakic's alone on the side. I was able to get the first save and he chipped it over me for the second one. It's unacceptable, inexcusable. That should never happen, especially in an important game like that. We just pissed away two points tonight".

The goal came after Burrows gave Vancouver a 2-1 lead at 18:15 of the third period, diving to poke the puck barely over the goal-line. Play continued for about 30 seconds, but a replay later showed Burrows had scored and the clock was reset.

"It came out on the side of the net and I was able to just poke it one," said Burrows. "I thought it was close to the line, and that's what I told our guys. I didn't see it cross the line. The review showed that it was in. It's nice to get a goal, but it would have been nice to get the two points."

The Canucks delivered a much better effort than they did in their last meeting with Colorado at GM Place on Feb. 9, when they allowed three first-period goals and lost 6-2. But Sakic, who has scored more career points (93) against the Canucks than any other club, once again proved to be Vancouver's nemesis.

After a scoreless first period, Raymond gave Vancouver a 1-0 lead 8:31 into the middle period as he deflected Ryan Shannon's shot from near the blue-line. Shannon was lucky to elude Colorado's David Jones, who had lost his stick moments earlier but was still covering him closely.

Brunette drew Colorado even with 59.2 seconds remaining in the second as he took a pass from Svatos and deked Luongo, who had made an outstanding glove save moments earlier.

"We battled to the end," said Svatos. "It's not a great thing to play from behind." Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault was happy with his club's effort but disappointed the Canucks were blanked on six power play attempts. He took little consolation in the move into sixth.

"There's a lot of games left," said Vigneault.

Adam Foote, playing his second game since returning to the Avalanche in a deadline-day trade with Columbus, suffered an apparent arm injury when hit by Canucks defenceman Willie Mitchell's shot around the 11-minute mark of the second. He stayed on the bench for a while and then went to the dressing room, but returned in the third period.

Notes: Shannon extended his points streak to six games, but was denied along with Raymond in the shootout . . . Matt Pettinger, acquired from Washington at Tuesday's trading deadline, played his first game for the Canucks . . . Rick Rypien suited up for the Canucks after being recalled from Manitoba of the American Hockey League. He took centre Byron Ritchie's spot in the lineup. Ritchie sat out with a sore back . . . Defenceman Ruslan Salei played his first game for Colorado after being acquired from Florida on Tuesday . . . Avalanche centre Tyler Arnason needs one more game for 500 in his career.



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