DENVER -- Games that go past 60 minutes have been the norm in recent weeks for the Vancouver Canucks, who pulled out a 3-2 shootout victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday at the Pepsi Center.
Mason Raymond’s goal in the second round of the tiebreaker was the difference for the Canucks, who have played extra time in four consecutive games and in seven of the past nine.
The loss stretched the Avs' losing streak to five games (0-4-1) and was their first defeat in eight shootouts this season. Colorado had won 10 in a row, one short of the NHL record set by the Dallas Stars in 2005-06.
Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo stopped 44 shots through the five-minute overtime and denied all three Avalanche players in the shootout: Milan Hejduk, Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O’Reilly.
"Those guys have some pretty good shooters and I think they had a good shootout record," said Luongo, who improved his shootout record to 3-5. "I was able to get a couple of breaks there."
Avalanche goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who had 27 saves through 65 minutes, stopped Maxim Lapierre in the first round but was beaten through the five-hole by Raymond.
"He came wide and I wanted to be patient and he just sneaked a shot in there," Giguere said.
The Canucks seemed headed for a defeat in regulation until defenseman Kevin Bieksa came to the rescue. First, he dived to the ice to prevent TJ Galiardi’s flip from the neutral zone from entering the Canucks’ empty net with 48 seconds remaining.
"I just wanted to put my body in front of it," Bieksa said.
With 34.1 seconds to go, Bieksa gathered in a loose puck in the high slot and whistled a shot over the right shoulder of a screened Giguere to force overtime.
Bieksa had selected a new stick while sitting on the bench before taking his final shift, figuring it might help with the ice conditions getting worse in the final minutes.
"I like to go to a freshly-taped stick in case the puck bounces," he said. "If I feel like it’s a little whippy or the tape’s messed up, I switch to a new one."
Luongo might even help Bieksa put new tape on his sticks in the future after watching him take on the role of hero Saturday.
"Exciting to win," Luongo said. " ‘Juice’ (Bieksa) did it all. Scored a goal, blocked a couple of shots, dove across … the whole thing."
Galiardi had an earlier chance to seal a win for the Avalanche, but his shot from the blue line hit the side of the vacated net with a minute to go.
While the Canucks rejoiced, the Avalanche left the ice in frustration again, having failed to score more than two goals for the fifth consecutive game. Colorado fired 46 shots at Luongo two days after getting shut out by Minnesota despite getting 37 shots on goal.
"We were in position to grab two points and they were able to tie it up at the end of the game," coach Joe Sacco said. "We did a lot of good things against a pretty good hockey team. I liked the way we skated and I liked the way we competed. We had some guys who really dug in and played hard. The unfortunate thing is we couldn’t get the extra point."
The Avalanche took a 2-1 lead on a goal by Jay McClement at 3:39 of the second period after Luongo tried to poke away a loose puck. Daniel Winnik intercepted and fed McClement for a quick shot and his first goal in 19 games, since Dec. 21.
The Canucks opened the scoring at 3:31 of the first period on a goal by Ryan Kesler after Avalanche defenseman Kyle Quincey lost his stick. Kesler raced by and fired the puck behind Giguere.
The Avalanche tied the game at 9:14 on a power-play goal by David Jones. It was the first goal for the Avalanche in three games this season against the Canucks, a span of 129:14. Vancouver posted 6-0 and 3-0 wins in the first two meetings and has gone 12-0-2 in the past 14 games between the teams.
Jones, who was a healthy scratch in Thursday’s 1-0 loss to Minnesota, had gone seven games without a point before he converted Paul Stastny’s saucer pass from just outside the crease.
The Canucks weren’t especially happy with how they played Saturday, but they’re on a 4-0-2 roll and own the second-best record in the Western Conference with 69 points. Saturday’s game was the first of a four-game road trip, and the Canucks will play nine of the next 12 away from home.
"Getting a win, that is the sole goal at the end of the night," Kesler said. "Just find a way to win. Play your best game every night, and we haven’t been doing that. You can tell that by the shot totals and the chances against, but we keep finding ways to win. We have to simplify our game a little bit. Chip it in, work down low. We have to generate more offense, but the positive is that we keep getting points."