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Avs Pick Up Two Points vs. Canucks

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche

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The second period has been the most productive frame for the Colorado Avalanche all year. The Avs did nothing to buck that trend Wednesday night at Pepsi Center, notching four second-period goals in a 6-3 rout of the Vancouver Canucks.

Trailing 2-1 after 20 minutes of action, the Avalanche kicked its offense into gear and started the middle frame with a bang. Paul Stastny knocked home the rebound of a Milan Hejduk attempt that rang off the post at 4:54, while Cody McLeod gave the Avs a lead they would not relinquish 1:13 later. The rookie forward caught a long pass from defenseman John-Michael Liles near the blue line and snuck a shot between the pads of Vancouver netminder Roberto Luongo at the 6:07 mark.

Hejduk then notched a goal of his own, beating Luongo stick side from the right faceoff dot during a 2-on-1 rush at 10:29, while Ben Guite stretched Colorado’s lead to 5-2 only 1:02 later on his 11th goal of the season following a scramble in front of the Vancouver net.

Guite’s goal caused the Canucks to pull Luongo, who was replaced by Curtis Sanford.

“I thought we played well. In the first period I think Vancouver played a little better than we did,” said Peter Forsberg, who recorded three assists in the game. “After the first 5 minutes, I thought we stopped skating. But in the second and third I thought we played great. I think we played really good offensively. It’s really tough to chase Luongo out of his net.”

While the four-goal eruption was something to see, it was by no means unusual for the Avalanche to make some noise in the middle frame. Coming into the game, the Avs had scored 82 of their 205 goals (40%) during the second period.

However, before the end of the stanza, Sami Salo scored on a blast from the point with 9.4 seconds remaining on the clock to make it a 5-3 game heading into the intermission.

It didn’t take long for the Avs to get the goal back, as Hejduk recorded his second tally of the evening just 23 seconds into the third period on a wrister from the slot – a goal which wrapped up the game’s scoring.

“It felt like not just our line but everyone skated well,” said Hejduk. “We created a lot of scoring chances, especially in the second period. We were all over them. We were creating a lot of quality scoring chances and the pucks were going in.”

Jordan Leopold put the Avs on the board first with a power-play goal 5:10 into the opening frame – the defenseman’s second goal in as many games.

Henrik Sedin answered for the Canucks at 9:59 on a goal that came just after a penalty to Ryan Smyth had expired. Taylor Pyatt then gave Vancouver a 2-1 advantage on a shot that first deflected off Wojtek Wolski’s stick before sneaking through Theodore’s pads at 13:18.

The victory was the Avs’ fifth straight over the Canucks, with Colorado outscoring Vancouver 20-9 during that stretch. The Avs have now won seven of eight at home and are 25-12-2 at Pepsi Center this season.

A Sign of Longevity
Hejduk appeared in his 697th career game tonight, which moved him into sole possession of fifth place on the franchise’s games-played list. Coming into tonight’s game, Hejduk was tied with Alain Cote at 696. He now sits behind only Joe Sakic (1,359), Michel Goulet (813), Adam Foote (807) and Peter Stastny (737).

Stastny’s “Sort-of-Streak”
Paul Stastny posted a goal and two assists tonight and has collected points in each of his last seven games (2g/9a), yet the second-year center has only a three-game point streak to his credit. How is that, you ask? Stastny missed Colorado’s March 20 matchup in Calgary with a case of the flu, which, in effect, makes his seven-game point streak unofficial.

You Have to Shoot to Score
The Avalanche recorded 37 shots on goal Wednesday night, falling short of their season-high set on New Year’s Eve at Phoenix (45). However, Colorado did set a season-high by peppering Vancouver’s netminders with 23 shots in the second period. Colorado’s previous best shot total this year was 19 in a single frame, which came in the second period against Edmonton on Nov. 28. It was also the most shots on goal in a period for the club since April 3, 2002 vs. Atlanta (24 in 2nd period).

First Blood
Just like in Monday’s game against Calgary, Leopold opened the scoring in tonight’s game. And just like Monday, the Avs skated away with a victory after striking first. The Avalanche is now 29-4-3 when getting the game’s first goal. Colorado’s last loss when opening the scoring came on Feb. 24 in a 3-2 setback at Edmonton. It also marked the first time in Leopold’s career that he has scored in back-to-back contests.
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