Vancouver Canucks lost two-thirds of their hottest line and their starting goaltender on Tuesday night, but found their game in time to pull away from the Colorado Avalanche. That's what depth can do, and the Canucks appear to have plenty of it.
With goalie Roberto Luongo and winger David Booth both knocked out early, Cory Schneider made 20 saves, Daniel Sedin finished off his fifth career hat trick and Jannik Hansen added the second of two goals during a third-period outburst that led the Canucks to a 6-0 romp over the Avalanche.
"Obviously it hurts when guys go down but other guys need to step up," said Hansen, who now has five goals during a four-game scoring streak, and nine already this season to match his career high. "Everybody knows when you get scoring from four lines and six ‘D', it's hard for teams to match up against, and it's what we seem to be doing right now."
They may need to keep it up a while longer without Booth, who was helped off the ice after a thunderous knee-on-knee collision with Kevin Porter in the first period. Luongo was forced out by a rising Gabriel Landeskog slap shot that got under his mask and caught him on the neck 3:38 into the second, but was on the bench to start the third period.
"Just had trouble breathing for a few seconds and felt fine afterwards," said Luongo, still sporting a crimson welt on the right side of his neck. "A little bit lightheaded the rest of the way … I just didn't feel like myself for a little while. That's why we got the closer in there."
Booth may not be as lucky. He is scheduled to have an MRI Wednesday, and almost certainly won't join the he team to start a five-game road trip in Montreal Thursday.
"We'll know more then," coach Alain Vigneault said of the MRI. "I was told it was knee-in-knee, that he stuck his knee out, but I haven't seen the replay."
Porter got a five-minute major and game misconduct for kneeing after catching Booth as he cut into the slot, but coach Joe Sacco was more upset about a hit by Vancouver's Maxim Lapierre that knocked defenseman Ryan Wilson out of the game with a head injury.
"Dangerous hit," Sacco said. "Unfortunately the referees missed it. We had a five-minute major on a marginal call and we don't get a five-minute major for the hit on Wilson."
Booth's departure left Vancouver without two-thirds of a second line – Chris Higgins is day to day with a foot infection – that combined for nine points Sunday against Calgary. It could have been worse, as defenseman Kevin Bieksa, who earlier extended his career-best point streak to six games, left late in the second period after an elbow to the mouth.
Bieksa, though, returned to start the third, and the game opened up.
"I realize it was probably accidental but that shouldn't matter," Bieksa said after losing a tooth on the play. "You swing your elbow like that and it hits the guy in the jaw, knocks his teeth out, it should be a penalty. The referee saw the replay and stuck to his guns, so I guess I'm just the unlucky guy who got his tooth knocked out."
Sedin and Hansen delivered the real knockout punch early in the third.
Sedin walked out and beat Semyon Varlamov from the slot 5:15 in, Hansen added his second goal from the right faceoff circle 34 seconds later, and Sedin completed his hat trick on a backdoor tap-in from an Alex Burrows feed 80 seconds later, giving him six goals on a four-game streak of his own that followed an eight-game goal drought.
"It's going to happen if you keep shooting and keep creating. That's the way a season goes, up and down … this is what happens when you're on a roll," Daniel said after twin brother Henrik had three assists, and Burrows two, giving the top line eight points.
"We're a deep team so we can have a few injuries. … When we play our best we're going to be in games. It doesn't matter who's in the lineup."
That includes the goaltenders, who kept Colorado off the board while being outshot 24-11 through the first two periods. Luongo, making his second straight start after watching Schneider play five in a row, made a couple good 2-on-1 saves among his13 stops. And Schneider added 20 saves over the final two periods, including several good ones when it was still 1-0, for the partial shutout, as the Canucks won for the seventh time in eight games, including another Avalanche shutout, 3-0, in Colorado on Oct. 23.
Ironically, it appeared to be a game the Avalanche, which came in on a three-game win streak, were unlucky not to be leading after two periods.
"The difference in the first two periods was goaltending," Vigneault said. "We got great goaltending from both guys and a couple grade-A chances we were able to score on."
When Alex Edler scored at 9:40 of the third -- making it four goals in 4:25 -- Varlamov's night ended with six goals on just 21 shots, and Jean-Sebastien Giguere came in.
"You can't let [Varlomov] hang like that," said captain Milan Hejduk after the Avs' fell to to 1-6-0 within the Northwest Division. "If you are thinking about playoffs, these games are really important and it seems like we can't get it done. We're not happy about it."