Henrik Sedin scored the game-winner and added an empty-net insurance goal to give Vancouver a 4-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche at Rogers Arena as the Canucks clinched the Northwest Division title and grabbed the NHL's first playoff berth.
Sedin snapped a 2-2 tie with a quick shot from the deep slot after receiving a clever drop pass from brother Daniel, who pushed the puck back between his legs.
The goal came just 2:18 after Alex Burrows tied the game by jamming Daniel Sedin's centering pass under goalie Brian Elliott, who faced 39 shots.
Henrik Sedin's empty-netter completed a comeback from an early 2-0 deficit.
Vancouver improved to 47-16-9 to clinch its fourth Northwest Division title in five years, guaranteeing the Canucks at least the third playoff seed in the Western Conference.
The streaking Canucks won their seventh straight game to lead idle Philadelphia by 10 points in the Presidents' Trophy race for first overall. They remained 11 points ahead of Detroit in the chase for the Western Conference title.
Canuck netminder Cory Schneider made 27 saves in winning his fifth straight start.
"I guess they don't do the cover it in plastic and bring champagne like baseball," Schneider, who has never played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, said of clinching the division. "It's nice to have that locked up and know you're going to be in the playoffs."
Burrows, the third member of the Sedins' line, scored his 21st goal of the season and fourth in seven games. Maxim Lapierre got the other Vancouver goal in the second period.
Avalanche forward Paul Stastny almost tied the game with two minutes remaining but fired a rebound chance into the glove of Schneider.
"When we get into certain situations we are fragile at times," Colorado coach Joe Sacco said. "We got caught on our heels a little bit in the third and you have to give Vancouver some credit for that. They're a high-power team and their best players made plays when they needed them."
Johnson, the No. 1 pick in the 2006 Entry Draft in Vancouver, scored his third goal in 11 games for Colorado -- which has lost nine straight (0-8-1) -- since the Avs obtained him from St. Louis in a Feb. 18 trade. Johnson, who has led Colorado in ice time in that span, beat Schneider on a power-play point shot while the goalie was screened by Ryan O'Reilly.
Sami Salo, penalized for interference on the first goal, saw the second deflect in off his skate and behind Schneider. Duchene, hampered by a hand injury that left him stuck on 21 goals for a month, scored for the first time in 11 games 87 seconds later when his pass hit Salo.
Mark Olver, who drew an assist on Duchene's goal, rattled a shot off the pipe late in the period.
"We didn't play a good first period tonight, but we stuck with our game plan and if we do that and we have a lot of guys chipping in, we're going to win a lot of games," said Henrik Sedin, who is tied with Steven Stamkos for second in the NHL in scoring, six points behind brother Daniel.
Lapierre and Chris Higgins, both obtained by Vancouver at the Feb. 28 trade deadline, figured in the goal that drew the Canucks within one.
Higgins threw the puck into Elliott's crease from behind the net and Lapierre smacked it into the net between the goalie's legs. It was the first point as a Canuck for either of them.
"It's nice to clinch," Burrows said. "That was one of our goals coming into the season, to get into the playoffs and try to win the Northwest and get home-ice advantage and it's nice to accomplish that, but there's still a lot of work ahead."
Elliott maintained the lead heading into the third period, taking the angle away from Jeff Tambellini on a break-in and reacting quickly to get a pad on a Kesler one-timer.
Earlier in the middle period he sprawled to foil a close-in chance by Manny Malhotra who later left the game after being hit in the head by a puck and did not return. Malhotra left the arena for the hospital.
"I'm assuming because there was blood in his eye and they wanted to make sure," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said of Malhotra's injury. "He was taken there by our doctor and they are checking him over now. I don't think anybody should speculate one way or the other."
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.
|PPG - Erik Johnson (8) ASST: John-Michael Liles (37), David Jones (16)|
1 - 0 COL
|Matt Duchene (22) ASST: Mark Olver (3), Ryan O'Byrne (9)|
2 - 0 COL
|Maxim Lapierre (6) ASST: Chris Higgins (13), Keith Ballard (4)|
2 - 1 COL
|Alexandre Burrows (21) ASST: Daniel Sedin (53), Dan Hamhuis (16)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Henrik Sedin (17) ASST: Daniel Sedin (54), Alexandre Burrows (22)|
3 - 2 VAN
|EN - Henrik Sedin (18) ASST: NONE|
4 - 2 VAN
|Sami Salo Interference against Ryan O'Reilly|
|Ryan Wilson Tripping against Daniel Sedin|