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Canucks cruise past Avs to extend Northwest lead

The Vancouver Canucks extended their division lead to a massive 16 points Wednesday with a 3-1 home victory over Northwest foes Colorado.

Jannik Hansen scored with under seven minutes left in the third period to break a 1-1 tie, and Alexandre Burrows made sure of the win with an empty-netter in the final minutes.

"It was nice to see it go in," Hansen told reporters after his team improved to 13-0-2 in their last 15 meetings with Colorado. "It was nice that it was late in the game and we were able to hold on so it was two big points for us."

Vancouver (36-15-6) padded their Northwest lead to 16 points, the biggest division lead in the NHL, and trail Western Conference-leading Detroit by just two points.

Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo kept his team in control with 29 saves, allowing only a second-period goal to Colorado's Erik Johnson.

David Booth converted a backhand shot 13 seconds into the game to get the Canucks off to a fast start.

Colorado lost starting goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere late in the first when he left with a groin injury. Semyon Varlamov came on and made 20 saves.

The Avalanche are three points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the West but have a poor 2-13-1 record against division opponents.

"It's costing us," said defenseman Shane O'Brien, a former Canuck. "If we look back here and end up coming up a little bit short for the playoffs, obviously you look inside your division, you can't have that bad of a record.

"For whatever reason, we can't find a way to get it done against this division."

Editing by Peter Rutherford)