Avs continue fight for playoffs in Vancouver

The Colorado Avalanche need some help if they are going to make the playoffs. They certainly aren't getting any from their late-season schedule.

The Avalanche try to snap a six-game slide to the Northwest Division-champion Vancouver Canucks this evening at Rogers Arena.

Colorado has just four games left to play and is currently a point back of the final two postseason spots in the Western Conference. Dallas and Phoenix hold those positions and have six and five games left, respectively, while Los Angeles shares the Avalanche's point total of 86 but with two games in hand.

That puts a lot of pressure on the Avs to win out, but they carry a three-game slide into this matchup. That includes an overtime loss to Vancouver at home on Saturday that was followed up with a 5-1 setback in San Jose on Monday.

Shane O'Brien scored Colorado's only goal and Semyon Varlamov made 31 saves for Colorado, which had gone 7-1-1 prior to its current losing streak. That three-game slide is the club's longest since dropping five straight from Jan. 22-Feb. 4.

"I don't think we were the better team tonight," said Avalanche coach Joe Sacco. "We've been playing very well lately but tonight they outplayed us."

Colorado has been getting outplayed by Vancouver for the better part of three seasons. The Canucks are 14-0-2 in this series since their last regulation loss to the Avalanche on Oct. 3, 2009 and go for the six-game season series sweep this evening.

The Canucks have outscored the Avs 9-1 in two meetings this year at Vancouver, where Colorado has dropped five in a row.

Having already clinched their division, the Canucks reached 100 points for a fourth straight season with Monday's 1-0 win over Los Angeles. Vancouver's 101 points has it four back of St. Louis for the most in the NHL and the Canucks will use up a game in hand tonight over the idle Blues.

Roberto Luongo posted 38 saves in his fourth shutout of the season and 59th of his career, while Manny Malhotra potted the game's only goal 3:05 into the first period off assists from Max Lapierre and Alexander Edler.

"We like to be a good defensive team too," said Vancouver forward Alex Burrows. "(Luongo) was on his game tonight and made some big saves for us."

The Canucks have won three straight games since forward Daniel Sedin suffered a concussion as a result from an elbow to the head from the Blackhawks' Duncan Keith in last Wednesday's overtime loss at Chicago. Keith was suspended for five games for the hit, while Sedin is out indefinitely.

Vancouver won the opener of a five-game homestand and is 22-10-4 as the host this season.