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Avalanche offense rolls over Canucks for Varlamov

by Rick Sadowski

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche cranked up what they expected to be a high-scoring attack for the first time this season Friday and defeated the Vancouver Canucks 7-3 at Pepsi Center for their first home win.

Matt Duchene had a goal and two assists, Jarome Iginla scored his first two goals for Colorado, and Tyson Barrie had three assists. The Avalanche ended a four-game losing streak.

They didn't score more than three goals in any game before Friday and were averaging 1.7 per game, so they are hopeful this was the breakthrough they've been seeking.

"Yeah, it is," Duchene said. "We've had games where we probably could have scored that many goals and we didn't. It's been frustrating and was really nice to see all those go in tonight."

The Avalanche took leads in their four previous games but couldn't build on them, which is why it was so important when Daniel Briere and Duchene scored 3:50 apart early in the third period to build a 5-2 advantage.

"That's what we've been missing, to step on the throat and put the nail in the coffin," Duchene said. "Tonight we were able to do that. That's what made us successful last year. Any time we were up we finished it off. When we were down we believed we could come back. Hopefully that carries on to the rest of the season."

Colorado, which took a season-high 48 shots at Canucks goalie Eddie Lack, scored four times in the third period to support goalie Semyon Varlamov, who had 26 saves for his first win in four decisions. He was returning after missing three games with a groin injury.

Iginla scored his first goal of the game and 561st of his NHL career at 14:28 of the first period to move past Guy Lafleur into a tie with Mike Modano for 23rd place on the all-time list. He passed Modano with 43.3 seconds remaining in the game with a deflection of a shot by Alex Tanguay.

"It felt good," said Iginla, who passed to Duchene for a breakaway goal and the 5-2 lead at 5:55 of the third period. "I was getting a little frustrated in the first. I had some great looks. The first one [Duchene] gave me a nice pass right in the slot. I had it on my backhand and just tried to get it as high as I can. It was very nice to see it go in. It sure felt good to get it and I'll just keep trying to go from here."

Duchene said, "Two beautiful goals. You can see why he's going to be a Hall of Fame guy."

Daniel Sedin drew the Canucks within 5-3 at 10:09 of the third period, but the Avalanche responded at 12:56 when Gabriel Landeskog beat Lack to the short side with a shot from the left point.

"It wasn't [Lack's] fault," Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said. "He kept us in there. It was 3-2 (in the second period) and we had the power play and if we score on that it's a 3-3 game in a game we didn't deserve to be in there except for Eddie. Eddie did his job. We didn't do ours."

Jamie McGinn and Erik Johnson scored for Colorado in the second period to take a 3-2 lead.

McGinn tied the game 2-2 at 6:06 by driving to the net to convert a pass from Duchene, who carried the puck along the right-wing boards, moved to the left of Lack and slipped the puck by defenseman Christopher Tanev.

Johnson scored on a 5-on-3 power play at 8:48 with Vancouver's Nick Bonino (high sticking) and Shawn Matthias (hooking) in the penalty box. Barrie passed to Johnson, who shot the puck from the high slot past Lack, who was screened on the play.

"I was trying take it one puck at a time," Lack said. "We just fell apart as a team. It was a tough game for me. You are never happy when you give up seven goals."

The Canucks, who defeated the St. Louis Blues on Thursday, took a 2-1 lead in the first period on goals by Henrik Sedin, who scored 10 seconds into the game, and Alexandre Burrows, who broke a 1-1 tie at 17:23.

The Avalanche have been plagued by turnovers on a nightly basis, a trend that continued when Johnson tried to send the puck around the boards. Daniel Sedin intercepted and fed Henrik Sedin in the slot for a quick shot past Varlamov.

"It didn't start like we wanted," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "We gave up a goal, but what I was impressed with is it didn't change our game. We stayed focused, we kept going, and I thought we had an outstanding first period after that. Even after they took the second lead in the first period I got the sense the guys were focused."

Burrows scored at the edge of the crease after taking a pass from Bonino. The puck went under Varlamov and into the net off his right skate. The goal was waved off but was ruled to be a good goal after a video review.

Cody McLeod became the first player in Avalanche history and the sixth in Quebec/Colorado history to reach 1,000 career penalty minutes (he has 1,004 in 475 games) when he fought Derek Dorsett at 9:25 of the first period.

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