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Avs beat Canucks with big second period

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The Avalanche broke a seventh-place tie with the Canucks in the tight Western Conference playoff race with their second straight win on home ice following a four-game skid.
WATCH: Highlights from the Avs' win
Peter Forsberg may not be his old self yet. But it looks like he’s getting there.

Colorado coach Joel Quenneville moved Forsberg from the Avs’ third line to the second unit with Milan Hejduk and Paul Stastny. The newly united trio combined for nine points, with Forsberg setting up two of Colorado’s four second-period goals in a 6-3 victory Wednesday night at the Pepsi Center.

“I was glad to get back and play with Milan and Paul,” Forsberg said after helping the Avs overcome a 2-1 deficit after one period. “In the first period, I thought Vancouver played harder than we did after the first few minutes. But in the second period, we played great.”

Forsberg had contributed just three assists and battled a groin injury since rejoining the Avs late last month. He has yet to score a goal and had been on the third line as Quenneville tried to limit his ice time due to the groin problem.

''I don't know if I'm back yet. Those weren't the prettiest points, but I'll take them anyway,'' Forsberg said.

The Avalanche broke a seventh-place tie with the Canucks in the Western Conference playoff race with their second straight home win following a four-game skid. The Canucks lost their third straight overall and fifth in a row to Colorado.

Forsberg, who sat out the first four months of the season because of a right foot injury and recently missed six games with a strained groin, said he's finally skating better.

''I think so. I'm going to keep working. It's hard to not put pressure on yourself,'' he said.” Of course, I want to produce and score a couple of goals. At least I was playing a little better today than I was in the past couple of games.''

Quenneville noticed — and made the switch, switching Forsberg with Ryan Smyth.

“People are playing a lot of attention to Milan and Paul because they're great players. They worked hard creating for each other,'' said Forsberg, who played on a line with Hejduk in 2002-03, when Hejduk had his only 50-goal season and Forsberg won the MVP. ''It's great to be playing with Milan; he's such a natural goal scorer.''

As far as the Canucks were concerned, Forsberg picked the wrong night to turn back the clock to the days when he was among the NHL’s top players.

''He adds another dimension to that team — another dimension to a team that is already good at scoring,” Canucks forward Markus Naslund said.

Colorado turned the 2-1 deficit into a 5-2 lead by 11:31 of the second period — after which Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault pulled goaltender Roberto Luongo and replaced him with Curtis Sanford.

"It is unusual to get to him like this," Hejduk said of Luongo. "It just does not happen often. We had good chances tonight, and sometimes the pucks just go in."

Stastny, Cody McLeod, Hejduk and Ben Guite scored goals in a 6 1/2-minute span as the Avs matched their season-high for goals in a period. Stastny's 23rd goal tied it at 4:54 and followed a great pass to Hejduk from Forsberg. Hejduk's shot hit the left post and Stastny sent the rebound shot past Luongo.

McLeod's fourth goal of the season, off a long pass from John-Michael Liles, put the Avs in front 3-2 at 6:07. Hejduk made it 4-2 at 10:29 with his 24th goal on assists from Stastny and Forsberg, and Guite's 11th goal of the season at 11:31 forced the Canucks to switch goalies.

“It was one of our better periods of the season,” Quenneville said.

Vancouver’s Sami Salo cut the margin to 5-3 when he scored with 10 seconds left in the second period, but Hedjuk beat Sanford 23 seconds into the third period to restore the Avs’ three-goal margin.

The Avs took an early lead when Jordan Leopold scored a power-play goal 5:10 into the game. But the rest of the period belonged to the Canucks, who controlled the action and took the lead on goals by Daniel Sedin at 9:59 and Taylor at 13:18.

The loss left the eighth-place Canucks two points ahead of Nashville and three in front of Edmonton in the West.

“I think we were still in it after the first, but in the second, they generated a lot of chances and crashed the net," Luongo said. "We have been up and down the last few months but we are not panicking, we've just got to get ready for the next game and take care of business."

Blue Jackets 4, Blackhawks 0 | Video

Columbus was determined not to get blown out at home by the Blackhawks again. Mission accomplished.

The Blue Jackets, who lost 7-2 and 6-3 in the Hawks’ last two visits to Nationwide Arena and had lost three in a row overall, allowed Chicago just 17 shots and made it easy for Fredrik Norrena to record his second shutout of the season.

"They crushed us the last couple of games at home," Norrena said. "We underestimated them for some reason. It's the two toughest games I've had all year. Tonight we slowed them down."

Columbus had a 12-4 shot advantage through the first 20 minutes, holding Chicago without a shot for more than 11 minutes.

"The first four minutes we played pretty good, came out strong," Chicago coach Denis Savard said. "Then we took some bad penalties, gave them the momentum and never recovered."

Clay Wilson, a rookie defenseman playing his second NHL game, assisted on Joakim Lindstrom’s power-play goal at 4:49 of the second period, then made it 2-0 at 7:13 of the third with his first NHL goal.

“It's unbelievable," Wilson said. "I came up here not expecting too much, just trying to keep it simple.”

David Vyborny and Michael Peca added goals for the Blue Jackets, who improved to 79 points but are all but assured of missing the playoffs due to their inconsistency.

"We've been up and down for a while, playing a good period here and a bad period there," Columbus captain Rick Nash said. "Finally, tonight we put three periods together, and it shows what we can do when we play our style."

Chicago is one point ahead of Columbus and six points out of the last playoff spot with five games to play.

"We didn't have too many shots, too many good scoring chances for whatever reason," Savard said. "To get as few a shots as we did is frustrating. It's tough to take now. It was a big game."

Ducks 2, Kings 1, SO | Video

Anaheim clinched a playoff berth and won its 10th in a row at home thanks to Jonas Hiller, who won a duel of rookie goaltenders with the Kings’ Erik Ersberg. Mathieu Schneider’s goal in the fifth round of the penalty-shot competition gave the Ducks the win.

Hiller sent the game into overtime by stopping Alexander Frolov’s breakaway with 15 seconds remaining in regulation. That assured the Ducks of the point they needed to lock up the playoff berth.

Both goaltenders were spectacular in overtime, with Hiller robbing Mike Cammalleri on a 2-on-0 in the final 20 seconds to send the game to a shootout. Dustin Brown put the Kings ahead by scoring in the second round, but Teemu Selanne tied it with a shot between Ersberg’s legs in the third round. Schneider put Anaheim ahead three rounds later with a wrist shot through the five-hole, and Hiller stopped Brian Willsie for the win.

With starter Jean-Sebastien Giguere sidelined with back spasms, Hiller played his third consecutive game.

“I came here to play,” he said. I’d never hope Jiggy gets hurt, and I hope he’s back soon. I’m just trying to do my best.”

Ersberg stopped 39 shots for the Kings, who are last in the overall standings.

“This has been a great opportunity for me to come in and play some games,” said Ersberg, a 26-year-old Swede who has looked good in 10 games since being called up from the AHL. “This was a battle. He played well, and I played pretty well also. It was a fight.”

Patrick O’Sullivan gave the Kings the lead with a power-play goal at 9:29 of the first period. Anaheim rookie Bobby Ryan ripped a wrist shot from the slot past Ersberg for a power-play goal at 12:25 of the second period.

“I saw the opening in the upper corner, and I was lucky enough to hit it,” said Ryan, the No. 2 pick behind Sidney Crosby in the 2005 Entry Draft.

The youth-filled Kings, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2003, are trying to play spoilers while working to convince the coaching staff that they should be back next season.

“We try to look at it as our playoffs,” said O’Sullivan, who scored his 20th goal of the season. “Every game is a chance to learn and get better.”

 

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