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Laperriere Nets Overtime Winner To Beat Vancouver

by Staff Writer / Colorado Avalanche
DENVER (AP) - Ian Laperriere scored on a breakaway in overtime Saturday to lift the Colorado Avalanche to a 4-3 victory over Vancouver on another no-win night for Todd Bertuzzi and the Canucks.

The puck came loose after a scrum along the boards near the red line, and Laperriere found himself skating free, one-on-one against goalie Alex Auld. The Avs center beat Auld at 1:55 and was mobbed by his teammates near the glass - as Colorado celebrated a sweep of two emotion-filled games against its newest, biggest rival.

These were Bertuzzi's first two games in Denver since he broke Avalanche forward Steve Moore's neck in 2004 during a game in Vancouver in one of the ugliest episodes in NHL history.

Like Thursday in Colorado's 6-2 victory, Bertuzzi was booed relentlessly - every time he came onto the ice or got near the puck - and especially when he skated in unhindered on his way to an assist that tied it at 1 in the first.

All the coaches and players tried to downplay the Bertuzzi circus. The Avalanche figured a pair of wins against the Northwest Division leaders would be the best revenge.

That's exactly what they got.

The second win was nowhere near as easy as the first, though.

Early in the third period, Avs defenseman Patrice Brisebois took the puck on what looked like a routine play behind his own net. He passed it behind him - but to Canucks forward Daniel Sedin, who passed to his wide-open brother, Henrik, in front of the net. Henrik went from forehand, to backhand and back to forehand again, easily fooling David Aebischer (22 saves) to make it 3-2.

About 14 minutes later, Alex Tanguay slipped a backhand past Auld with to tie it and set things up for overtime.

Auld (23 saves) relieved starting goalie Dan Cloutier for the second time in two games. The first time, it was because the Canucks trailed big early. This time, it was because Cloutier got clocked after allowing the night's first goal to Andrew Brunette.

Brunette got tangled up with Vancouver defenseman Nolan Baumgartner and, as Brunette was scoring, he slammed headfirst into the goal post, knocking the net off its moorings and leaving Cloutier dazed. The Vancouver goalie was undergoing evaluation late Saturday night, and the Canucks didn't offer any details.

Although Bertuzzi was the focal point, the game also offered a chance for Brad May - a bit player in the Moore-Bertuzzi affair - to possibly get some closure.

May was the Canucks player who suggested a bounty should be put on Moore's head in the leadup to Bertuzzi's big hit as retribution for a hit Moore had earlier put on Canucks star Markus Nasland. Understandably, Avs fans were upset when Colorado signed May in the offseason.

He had been booed a bunch by his own fans early in the year, but those boos turned to cheers when he squared off with Lee Goren of the Canucks early in the first period in a fight that looked as choreographed as a Broadway musical.

After about 20 seconds of shaking their fists at each other - the linesmen doing nothing to intercede - May landed a couple decent shots, then wrested Goren to the ice. When that bit of theater was over, May went to the box being cheered wildly.

Notes: The Canucks fell to 0-2 in overtime this season and are on their first losing streak of the year. ... Avalanche D Rob Blake scored his first goal of the season, making it 2-1 on a 5-on-3 in the second period.

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