Daniel Sedin snaps goal drought lifts Canucks past Avs

Vancouver Canucks Henrik Sedin (R) and teammate Alex Burrows celebrate a goal scored against the...

Vancouver Canucks Henrik Sedin (R) and teammate Alex Burrows celebrate a goal scored against the Colorado Avalanche by Daniel Sedin during the third period of their NHL hockey game in Vancouver, British Columbia March 28, 2013. (REUTERS/Andy Clark)

HOSEA CHEUNG, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:26 AM ET

VANCOUVER - The score was more flattering for the Vancouver Canucks than what actually took place on the ice Thursday night at Rogers Arena.

A pair of empty netters would do that.

But for a team that seemingly underestimated their 29th-ranked opponents, the Canucks were fortunate to avoid their first defeat in six games. They instead skate away with a 4-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.

"We got away with a game we didn't play our best but that's the way it is," said Daniel Sedin, who scored the game winner in the third period. "It could have easily gone the other way, if you're honest."

But it didn't, and that's credit again to their goaltender Cory Schneider, who is putting together an impressive stretch. He has now allowed just six goals in his last six starts — all wins — to improve to 12-5-3. Thursday, he made 32 saves in another strong showing, and kept his team in it despite their lacklustre play.

"We thought the game was going to be easier than it was," captain Henrik Sedin said. "We relaxed a little bit too much. We cheated on the wrong side of our checks instead of making the easy pass. We got to look at this and we got to be better, but we're happy that we won."

While the final score may not have been dominant, the Canucks record against Colorado in the past four years has. In fact, Vancouver has now gone 18-0-2 in their last 20 games against their Northwest Division rival— with the Avs' last regulation win in the series dating back to Oct. 3, 2009.

At the moment, the two teams are headed in completely opposite directions.

With the victory, Vancouver are winners in eight of their last 10 to regain top spot the division, two points ahead of the Minnesota Wild. Meanwhile, Colorado has lost eight of their last nine to maintain their position at the bottom of the West.

Even so, the visitors nearly pulled off an upset of sorts.

"It was a tough game, it was a grind," coach Alain Vigneault said. "They come at you real hard. They forced the issues on the forecheck, had their Ds pinching and it made for a hard battle on the walls in our end.

"Again Hank's line found a way to get us the goal and win us the game."

It was Sedin wizardry that got the Canucks on the board first. With 4:27 gone in the first period, Daniel backhanded a pass to Henrik who then found Alex Burrows all alone in front. It was the forward's ninth of the season to put him in a tie for the club lead with brother Daniel and Mason Raymond. But after Burrows took a holding penalty, the momentum swung Colorado's way. They went on a 22-7 run in shots and finally solved Schneider in the third period, snapping the goalie's shutout streak at 111 minutes and 33 seconds. Matt Duchene got the tally 4:02 into the final frame, his 13th of the campaign.

"We thought we might have a few more chances and maybe opened the flood gates but they outworked us for most part of that game until they tied it up," Burrows said. "For that maybe 30 minutes in the middle there, we weren't very good."

Vancouver regained the lead with Daniel's marker with less than nine minutes to go in regulation. On a set-play off a face-off, the winger eventually one-timed a shot through the legs of Semyon Varlamov for his team-leading 10th goal of the season. The Avs goalie finished with 16 saves.

Henrik and Chris Higgins added the empty net goals as the top line finished with six points. Vancouver also did not get a power play in the game while Colorado went 0-for-two with the man-advantage.

The Canucks head onto the road for a pair of games starting Saturday in Edmonton.


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