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Barrie's OT goal lifts Avalanche past Canucks

by Rick Sadowski

DENVER -- Thanks to defenseman Tyson Barrie, who has turned into an overtime hero, the Colorado Avalanche defeated the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 at Pepsi Center on Thursday and moved closer to securing their first Stanley Cup Playoff appearance since 2009-10.

Barrie tipped Matt Duchene's pass over the shoulder of goalie Eddie Lack 55 seconds into the extra period for his third overtime goal this season and the fourth of his NHL career, a franchise record for a defenseman.

"I don't know what it is," said Barrie, who has a career-high 10 goals. "I must be lucky. I thought it was kind of a broken play. I saw two guys go to [Duchene], so I figured I might as well stay in front. It was an unbelievable pass and I was able to tip it upstairs. It's just reaction. I kind of knew I was in tight and I wouldn't have time to get a shot off, so I just tried to redirect it. I could probably do that two out of 10 times in practice.

"They give me the green light to go 4-on-4 and try and jump in. Three in one year might be a little lucky. It's a lot of fun scoring the overtime winner. It was exciting, a big win for us."

Barrie has tied the franchise record for overtime goals in a season set by David Jones in 2010-11.

Colorado (46-21-6) is in third place in the Central Division with nine games to play, six on the road. The Avalanche moved within one point (99-98) of the second-place Chicago Blackhawks (42-17-15), who lost 3-0 on the road to the Boston Bruins.

"I thought we played real well defensively," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "It was one of our best performances defensively all year. We didn't give them that many chances. We didn't have the same jump. It started to look like we were a little tired, but our guys are competing, they work hard. They're looking at the standings, one point behind Chicago with a game in hand. Who would have thought that could be possible?"

Vancouver (34-30-11) remains in the hunt for a playoff spot with seven games remaining, six at home. They have 79 points, five behind the Phoenix Coyotes (36-26-12) for the second Western Conference wild-card position. The Coyotes defeated the New Jersey Devils 3-2 in a shootout.

"No bad news from me here," Canucks coach John Tortorella said after his team went 1-0-1 on its two-game road trip. "We'd like to get the two [points], but that's a huge point for us. We'll take the point. We're right there. We're still in it."

The Avalanche would have clinched a playoff spot if the Coyotes had lost.

"This is huge for us," said Duchene, who scored a first-period goal and leads the Avalanche with a career-high 70 points. "We want to finish as high as possible. They've had our number the last two years, so it feels good to beat them, especially at home.

"I saw Barrie there, his man kind of left him because he's a D-man, I think. Their forward backchecked on me hard and their D-man went to me too. The key in overtime is to get your D active. He did a great job going to the net, he was wide open, and he made an unbelievable shot on that goal."

Lack, who finished with 25 saves, credited Barrie for "a really good" deflection.

"I thought I had him, but he snuck through, got the stick on it," he said. "We just got to keep battling. Everybody in the room stays positive. The way we've been playing lately, I feel we have a chance to make the playoffs."

Gabriel Landeskog gave the Avalanche a 2-1 lead at 8:58 of the second period, but the Canucks tied the game with 1:22 left before intermission on a goal by Zack Kassian.

Landeskog, who has three goals in the past two games, was near the right post when he took Paul Stastny's pass from behind the net and lifted the puck over Lack's left leg for his career-high 24th goal.

Kassian, who scored the winning goal Wednesday when the Canucks defeated the Minnesota Wild, got the tying goal Thursday when he poked the puck into the net after Dan Hamhuis' shot from the left-wing boards hit Avalanche defenseman Cory Sarich and dropped at the edge of the crease.

"I was in exactly the right spot," Kassian said. "I was able to put it in, but falling short in a game like that stings. We still think we have a chance. Some of you might think we're crazy, but we still think we have a chance. None of us are going to quit."

The Canucks took a 1-0 lead at 10:50 of the first period on a power-play goal by defenseman Yannick Weber. Daniel Sedin got the play started when he passed to Nicklas Jensen in the slot. Jensen fed Weber driving from the left point towards the net for a shot into a half-open net.

The Canucks have connected for a power-play goal in five of their past six games, while the Avalanche has permitted at least one power-play goal in 11 of their past 17 games. But Colorado managed to kill off four of five penalties, two of them in the second period with defenseman Andre Benoit in the box.

Duchene tied the game at 15:40 with his first goal in seven games and 23rd of the season. Cody McLeod's shot from between the faceoff circles deflected to Benoit, who took a shot that Lack stopped before Duchene put in the rebound.

Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa was shaken up and limped to the dressing room with 6:31 left in the second period after he took a hit from Landeskog along the boards. He returned at the start of the third period but played two shifts and didn't see the ice in the final 14:14 of regulation or overtime.

Tortorella said Bieksa was "sore" and would know more about his status Friday after the Canucks return home.

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