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On the heels of a four-game losing streak, the Colorado Avalanche knew anything short of a victory against the Vancouver Canucks would be viewed as a disappointment. With a 2-1 lead heading into the final minutes of the third period, it appeared the Avalanche were on their way to picking up the win. However, a goal from Kevin Bieska with under a minute remaining gave the Canucks momentum heading into overtime, where they would go on to earn the 3-2 (SO) victory.
With the score tied after the first period, the Avalanche took the lead with a goal from Jay McClement, who scored his seventh goal of the season on an assist from Daniel Winnik. The lead lasted until the final minute of the third period, when Bieska scored the goal that sent the game to overtime.
Roberto Luongo was outstanding in the net for the Canucks in the win. Luongo stopped 44 of the 46 shots he faced and also denied the Avalanche on all three attempts in the shootout. Jean-Sebastien Giguere was impressive for the Avalanche, stopping 27 of the 29 shots he faced.
Having lost four straight, the Colorado Avalanche entered this game against the Vancouver Canucks knowing how important a victory would be. After falling behind early in the first period, the Avalanche scored the tying goal to even the score and generate some momentum heading into the second period.
The Canucks opened the scoring less than four minutes into the opening period, with Ryan Kesler finding the back of the net for hits 16th goal of the season. Alexander Edler and Mason Raymond combined to setup Kesler for the opening goal. However, after the opening goal, Vancouver struggled to apply pressure to the Avalanche defense, attempting only six shots in the period.
After falling behind early, Colorado dominated the remainder of the period. The Avalanche tested Roberto Luongo throughout the period, attempting 18 shots. However, Luongo was terrific, allowing only one goal. The lone goal came from David Jones on the Power Play with Paul Stastny and Ryan O'Reilly providing the assist.
After their heartbreaking 1-0 shutout loss to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night, the Colorado Avalanche now are faced with the difficult task of a matinee game against the Northwest DIvision leading Vancouver Canucks.
Colorado's current division record stands at 2-12 for the season for a mere four out of 24 possible points, easily the worst in the league. By comparison, the Avalanche are 24-13-2 against the rest of league, easily a contending playoff team. These Northwest division woes have already been an anchor on Colorado's playoff hopes, and continued failure against teams like Minnesota, Edmonton, and Calgary would be the death knell on the season.
Vancouver is not one of those teams. Already confident of a top three seed in the Western Conference playoffs, the Canucks continue to roll through the division boosted by their 10-3 division record. They are 3-1-1 in their last five games. Nine Canucks have scored at least five points in the past 10 games, led by 21 year old Cody Hodgson, who is having a breakout season in his first full year playing in the NHL. Goalie Roberto Luongo has also recovered from his early seasons woes, posting a .922 SV% in his past seven starts.
This will be a difficult matchup for Colorado. In their two previous contests this season, Vancouver mahandled the Avalanche by scores of 3-0 and 6-0. Colorado needs to find a way to overcome the Canucks, as they have 1-6-1 record against Vancouver the past two seasons and have been outscored 29-13 in those contests. With four more games against Vancouver this season, these remaining divisional games could make or break their season.
Puck drops at 1:00 p.m. MDT.
The Colorado Avalanche were unable to score at home in a 1-0 defeat against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night. It's the first time that the Avalanche have been shut out in the Pepsi Center since losing 3-0 to the Vancouver Canucks on Nov. 23, 2011.
Not too far into the game, the Wild took the early lead on Greg Zanon's second goal of the season. Assisted by Dany Heatley and Kyle Brodziak, Zanon's goal was the only one that would end up being scored all night long.
Minnesota goaltender Nicklas Backstrom was fantastic, saving all 37 shots that came his way for his third shutout of the season. Colorado's Jean-Sebastian Giguere also played well, saving 20 of 21 shots.
The Avalanche have lost four consecutive games now, dropping their current record to 26-25-2. Minnesota has now beaten Colorado twice recently, with its overall record at 25-19-7 this season.
The good news: Since their main competition all lost, the Avalanche kept pace in the Western Conference playoff hunt.
The bad news: With that loss in Edmonton, Colorado is now 2-11 against Northwest Division opponents.
The good news: Colorado welcomes the Minnesota Wild to Pepsi Center. Colorado defeated the Wild 1-0 in December, one of their two divisional wins this season.
With a victory, Colorado can leapfrop Minnesota and retake command of the 8th seed in the West, despite struggling mightily the past two weeks. After a dreadful December eliminated their hot start to the season, the Wild have regained their footing the past two weeks. Despite going 3-6-1 in January, Minnesota ended the month winning two of their past four games against solid competition. Dany Heatley is finally giving the Wild the offensive production they expected when they traded for him this offseason. Cal Clutterbuck is enjoying a quality campaign as well; the noted agitator has 13 goals this season, ranking third on the team.
The biggest struggle for Minnesota the past two months has been consistent goaltending. Both Josh Harding and Niklas Backstrom have struggled the past month, barely managing a .900 SV% between the two of them. With the Wild's team-based offensive approach, they need the goaltending to steal some games. Lately, that has not been happening.
Colorado faces a similar dilemma. Matt Duchene looks to out with a knee injury until at least mid February, leaving the Avalanche thin on impact top forwards. Peter Mueller has been a surprisingly solid addition since his return earlier in January -- he has four goals in eight games. Paul Stastny has also been a quality contributor, with a team leading nine points in the past 10 games. But the offense hasn't quite been enough as Colorado has lost three straight games, all by a 3-2 margin. The goaltenders have been solid, but not spectacular.
Puck drops at 7:00 p.m. MDT
The Edmonton Oilers went up 2-0 in the first period against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, and they never looked back. The Avs dropped their third straight game with a 3-2 loss to the Oilers at Rexall Place. The loss drops Colorado to 26-24-2, while Edmonton improves to 19-26-5.
Colorado out-shot the Oilers 33-23, but Edmonton goalie Devan Dubnyk was up for the task. Colorado also out-hit Edmonton 30-19, though the Oilers won the faceoff battle 29-21.
Colorado's Gabriel Landeskog scored his 11th goal of the season in the third period to cut the score to 2-3. That's as close as the Avalanche would get, as Dubnyk made several key saves late to secure the win.
Edmonton drew first blood when Jordan Eberle beat Semyon Varlamov to scor his 19th goal of the season. The Oilers would go up 2-0 before the period ended when Eric Belanger scored a power play goal, his second of the season, off assists from Ryan Whitney, Ryan Jones.
Colorado holds a 2-10 record against the rest of the division entering Tuesday's game against Edmonton.