DENVER (AP) - Jarkko Ruutu beat David Aebischer in a shootout, and Vancouver goalie Alex Auld was flawless in the tiebreaker, leading the Canucks to a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night.
After Ruutu scored, Marek Svatos and Milan Hejduk were stopped by Auld and Joe Sakic hit the left post as the Canucks won for the first time in four trips to Denver this season despite allowing two goals in the final 6 1/2 minutes of the third period.
Canucks defenseman Nolan Baumgartner went to the penalty box for hooking with 3:14 left in overtime, giving the Avalanche a rare OT power play. But the Avs failed to score and Colorado defenseman Rob Blake was whistled for hooking, setting up a 3-on-3 skate for 58 seconds before the Canucks had the power play.
The Avalanche tied it at 3 by scoring twice in the final 6:35 of the third period. Svatos' 30th goal from in front of the net at 13:25 made things interesting, and Brad Richardson's first career goal at 15:21 came when Auld was down on the ice and Richardson shot the puck up into the net.
Auld made 40 saves before turning away the Avs in the shootout.
After Ruutu's score from the left circle broke a 1-1 tie in the second period, the Canucks made it 3-1 on Ryan Kesler's goal at 9:12 of the third period.
The Avalanche surrendered a short-handed goal that evened things up after they had taken advantage of Kesler's double-minor for high-sticking and drawing blood from John-Michael Liles midway through the first period.
After Bob Boughner's shot from the right point went past Auld for a 1-0 Avs lead at 16:14, Vancouver center Trevor Linden stole the pick and the Canucks tied it on Mattias Ohlund's one-timer from the left point on a nice pass from Henrik Sedin at 17:57.
Late in the third period, ushers removed some rink-side fans who were razzing Todd Bertuzzi and apparently threw a giveaway nesting doll at him.
Getting his usual treatment at the Pepsi Center, Bertuzzi was booed by Avalanche fans still bitter about the cheap shot the Canucks' forward put on Colorado forward Steve Moore that broke Moore's neck in a 2004 game in Vancouver. Moore has not returned to hockey since the hit.
This was the fourth time in Denver this season that Bertuzzi has barely been a factor. He had no goals and two assists over the four games at the Pepsi Center, during which the Canucks were outscored 19-11.
Unlike his first three trips to Denver, this time he skated off a winner.
Vancouver won for the first time in four visits to Pepsi Center this season...The Canucks improve to 2-3 in shootouts this season, while the Avalanche falls to 2-5...Marek Svatos scored his team-leading 30th goal of the season tonight...He becomes only the third rookie in franchise history to score 30 goals in a single season, joining Anton Stastny and Peter Stastny (Both 39 in 1980-81)...Svatos scored his 10th goal in the month of January, becoming the first Avs/Nordiques rookie to score at least 10 goals in a single month since Joe Sakic in Oct. 1988 (10)...Brad Richardson scored his first career NHL goal for the Avalanche tonight...The Avalanche has now scored at least two goals in all 52 games this season...Colorado is one of only four NHL teams who have yet to get shutout this year, along with Detroit, Dallas and San Jose...Brendan Morrison played in his 400th consecutive game tonight. He is second on the NHL's active consecutive games-played list next to Karlis Skrastins (403)...Mattias Ohlund's short-handed goal was the first allowed by the Avalanche since Dec. 4 vs. Buffalo...The Avs gave up seven short-handed goals in the first 27 games this season, but only one in the last 25 games including tonight.
Brad Richardson: "We had lots of shots, but we didn't have a lot of traffic in front of the net, so (Auld) got to see all of the shots. But (Auld) played well. You just have to keep shooting, and get traffic in front of the net. He played a great game though. On keeping the puck from his first NHL goal..."I'll probably end up giving it to my parents. They have put in a lot of hours with me to get me where I am today, so I think for sure I'm going to have to give it to them.
David Aebischer: "It's a good team over there (Vancouver). In a shootout, anything can happen. And right now we don't score in shootouts. It would have been better for us to score on the power play we had (in OT). But Auld played pretty well." On Ruutu's Goal... "He faked the shot and I pretty much went for it."
Marc Crawford: "We needed to have everybody tonight and we got a little bit of something from everybody. I'm disappointed we didn't get the two points in regulation. It something we can improve upon there. To win in the shootout, to win in here and get two points is huge. This race is so tight right now that those points become so important. If you look at how the game went, they got a lot, a lot of calls that went their way tonight and we had to kill off a lot of penalties. They got the power-play in overtime but we killed that off I thought really well. I thought our 4-on3 kill was excellent and of course Alex (Auld) was outstanding in the net."