Canucks rally for 3-2 shootout win over Avalanche
DENVER – Kevin Bieksa tied the game with 34.1 seconds remaining in regulation and Mason Raymond scored the lone goal in the shootout as the Vancouver Canucks rallied for a 3-2 win over the struggling Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.
Raymond sent the puck through the pads of Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Roberto Luongo stopped all three shots he faced for Vancouver, which ended the Avalanche's 10-game streak of shootout victories.
Ryan Kesler also added a goal for the Northwest Division leaders.
Trailing 2-1 with 1:33 remaining, the Canucks pulled Luongo for an extra skater. Soon after, T.J. Galiardi had a chance to cement the win for the Avalanche, but missed the empty net.
Bieksa made it a costly misfire as he blasted a shot past Giguere. Just before scoring his tying goal, the defenseman was sitting on the bench, looking at new sticks. His selection apparently paid off.
In the shootout, Luongo stuffed Milan Hejduk, Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O'Reilly. Luongo pumped his fist after stopping O'Reilly's attempt. The Avs fell one shy of tying the NHL record for consecutive shootout wins set by the Dallas Stars — all during the 2005-06 season.
Jay McClement and David Jones had goals for the Avalanche as the team finally halted a long scoring drought against the Canucks. The last time Colorado put a puck in the net against Vancouver was last March, ending a dry spell that spanned nearly 178 minutes.
McClement's goal in the second period was his first in 19 games. He took a feed from Daniel Winnik and blasted it by Luongo.
The Avalanche could've been up by more if not for the sprawling saves turned in time and again by Luongo, including two in succession midway through the second period.
Luongo finished with 44 saves, many of the splendid variety, including stonewalling Winnik on a breakaway with just over 5 minutes remaining.
Kesler got the Canucks on the board first when he sent a shot past Giguere early in the opening period. The goal came soon after defenseman Kyle Quincey lost his stick and was unable to effectively cover anyone. It was Kesler's 16th goal this season.
David Booth had an assist on the play for the Canucks, who improved to 10-1-2 this season when he records a point.
Colorado answered right back as Jones knocked in a shot from the left side of Luongo after receiving Paul Stastny's pinpoint pass.
In two games this season, Luongo and Cory Schneider have each posted a shutout by bottling up the Avalanche.
For Jones, this was a step in the right direction to escape coach Joe Sacco's doghouse. Jones was benched last game for his recent struggles on the ice.
The most entertaining moment of the first period — maybe even the game, judging by the fans' raucous reaction — was a brawl between Cody McLeod and Byron Bitz that left McLeod's face dripping blood. It was McLeod's club-leading 11th fighting major this season.
Bitz was just called up from Chicago of the AHL on Friday and played in his first NHL contest in nearly two years.
It wasn't the only tussle as Alexandre Burrows and Shane O'Brien got into it late in the game. They were each sent to the penalty box for roughing and jawed at each other the entire time they were in there.
NOTES: Avs F Peter Mueller was a scratch just before the game because of flu-like symptoms. He missed 40 games earlier this season with a concussion. ... Duchene (knee) missed his 15th straight game. ... Canucks F Chris Higgins sat out his second game with the flu. ... Kesler has scored in four of the last five games.