Colorado And Vancouver Battle For Northwest Division Lead

(Sports Network) - The surging Vancouver Canucks will aim for a fifth straight victory tonight when they visit the Colorado Avalanche for a Northwest Division battle at the Pepsi Center.

The Canucks enter tonight one point ahead of the Avalanche for first place in the division and are also riding a five-game point streak (4-0-1) since beginning the season with a 2-3-1 mark.

The Avs and Canucks met just last week in Vancouver and the Canucks recorded a 4-3 overtime victory on a Mason Raymond goal just 28 seconds into the extra session. The Canucks have taken five of six, six of eight and eight of the last 11 meetings overall and Colorado has also dropped two straight and four of the last five encounters in Denver.

Vancouver was able to record its first road victory of the season on Tuesday night, as the Canucks edged the Edmonton Oilers, 4-3, at Rexall Place. Raffi Torres recorded his first career hat trick to double his goal total for the year and lead Vancouver to the victory.

Torres scored twice in the first period and his tally midway through the final period was the game-winner for the Canucks, who are now 1-3-1 as the visiting team.

Roberto Luongo finished with 23 saves and has started the last three games during the current winning streak. The club's No. 1 netminder is also expected to get the call tonight.

"This is what it's all about -- finding ways to win on the road," said Luongo. "It was tough giving up the three-goal lead but we held in there and Raffi got a big goal for us."

Vancouver will once again be without defenseman Ryan Parent (groin) and Dan Hamhuis (ankle). The duo did not join the club on this two-game jaunt and may not be ready to return to action when the Canucks play Saturday night against visiting Detroit.

However, forward Rick Rypien will be eligible to play Saturday against the Red Wings. Rypien, of course, was suspended six games for grabbing a fan in Minnesota on Oct. 19.

The Avalanche, meanwhile, have recorded consecutive wins and are coming off an impressive home win in their last outing. Colorado posted a 5-1 blowout victory Saturday against Columbus with Peter Budaj turning aside 33 shots to lead the way for the Avs.

"There were a couple of turnovers in the first period that I was able to make the saves on," said Budaj. "As we got the goals, it gave us more confidence and we were able to roll from there."

Chris Stewart and Paul Stastny each had a goal and an assist for the Avalanche. Stewart is currently riding an eight-game point streak and has eight goals and six assists over that stretch. He is also leading Colorado with nine goals and 16 points this season.

Milan Hejduk has recorded a point in each of his last six games and has three goals and eight assists during that run.

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