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Avalanche 6, Canucks 2 @NHL

DENVER (AP) - Before Avalanche archenemy Todd Bertuzzi heard his first jeer, or even stepped onto the ice for that matter, Vancouver had fallen behind. It kept getting worse for the Canucks on yet another disappointing trip to Colorado.

Milan Hejduk scored 11 seconds into the game and the Avalanche scored three more times in the first period en route to a 6-2 victory Sunday night over Bertuzzi and the Canucks.

Vancouver fell to 0-3 in Denver this season by a combined score of 16-7. On this trip, the Canucks never gave themselves a chance.

"No explanation for the start. Not at all. I don't have an answer," said Bertuzzi, after enduring yet another night full of boos at the Pepsi Center. "This is an embarrassing loss."

After the opening faceoff, Hejduk streaked toward the Vancouver goal and took a nice feed from Alex Tanguay to beat Alex Auld for the second-fastest goal in franchise history.

Andrew Brunette scored at 4:02 to make it 2-0, and the Avs got two more goals before the first intermission, including one that bounced in off Vancouver defenseman Mattias Ohlund after Auld deflected Joe Sakic's shot into the air.

"We got a couple of breaks on a couple of goals," Sakic said. "None luckier than mine, obviously."

Sakic's odd goal - his first of two on the night - compelled Canucks coach Marc Crawford to burn the team's timeout 8 1/2 minutes in, although the break didn't do much to sharpen things up for Vancouver.

Late in the first, after killing off a 5-on-3 power play, Canucks center Brendan Morrison lumbered from the penalty box to the bench to make way for Anson Carter. The whole thing went slowly, and by the time Carter reached the ice, Marek Svatos was skating in unhindered. Carter hooked Svatos, but couldn't prevent the goal and wound up replacing Morrison in the penalty box, to boot.

"We concentrated an awful lot on our start tonight. We talked about what we wanted to do and still got off to a horrendous start," Crawford said. "We're trying to make something happen and instead we gave a great chance right off the hop to one of the better shooters in the league."

The Canucks pulled within 4-2 midway through the third, but Antti Laaksonen ended any thoughts of a comeback when he picked off Auld's long pass from the crease and fed to Dan Hinote. Hinote scored short-handed for his first goal of a season in which he has missed about half the games with injuries.

Every time he touched the puck, 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.

But this was nothing like last month, when Bertuzzi made his first appearance in Denver since the incident and was booed mercilessly and mocked by fans wearing jail stripes and neck braces.

Maybe most notably, it was the third time in three games in Denver this season that Bertuzzi has been little factor. He had an assist Sunday to make it a grand total of no goals and two assists over the three games. It has hardly been a representative effort from the team's second-leading scorer - or any of the Northwest Division leaders.

"There is no explanation," Crawford said of the struggles against the Avs.

Morrison and Bryan Allen scored for Vancouver, although the Canucks never really got to goalie David Aebischer.

Aebischer, in jeopardy of losing his starting job a week ago, made 38 saves. It was his second straight solid outing, this coming after a 35-save game in a 5-0 win over Columbus on Friday.

"Anytime you're not playing, you're not happy," Aebischer said. "But you know you're going to get to play again at some point. I kept on working at it and I came out and I think I've played pretty well the last two games."

Auld, who has been starting for Vancouver since Dan Cloutier hurt his knee last week, made 30 saves and lost his second straight, a night after a 2-1 setback in Phoenix.

Notes: Hejduk was involved in a minor car accident on his way to the Pepsi Center. Nobody was injured. ... Colorado's record for fastest goal to start a game is 9 seconds, done March 24, 2001, against Boston. ... The Avs called up C Brad Richardson to replace Steve Konowalchuk, who had wrist surgery that will end his season.

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