VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - The Vancouver Canucks ended their disappointing season on a rare high note.
Anson Carter tied it with 42.4 seconds left in regulation and Brendan Morrison scored with 36.6 seconds left in overtime in Vancouver's 4-3 victory over Colorado on Saturday night.
Todd Bertuzzi and Markus Naslund also scored to help the Canucks win for the second time in the final eight games, a streak that saw their playoff fate sealed by back-to-back losses to San Jose earlier in the week. Picked to contend for the Stanley Cup after winning the Northwest Division in 2003-04, Vancouver instead missed the playoffs for the first time in five seasons.
"It does make a difference to finish off with a win. It's been a disappointing year for us," said Naslund, the team captain. "I don't think it was just one thing that went wrong, but the bottom line is a lot of us didn't play up to our potential."
With a point in the standings, Colorado locked up at least seventh place when Alex Tanguay's second goal put them ahead with 2:06 left to play, ensuring the Avalanche will avoid a first-round playoff matchup with NHL-leading Detroit.
"We were looking to get something out of tonight s game and we got it done," Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said.
Colorado is one point behind sixth-place Anaheim and two ahead of Edmonton heading into the season finale with the Oilers on Monday night, but the Avalanche have two more wins - the first tiebreaker.
"It's not going to mean anything for Edmonton, so you won't have that huge intense battle," Avalanche captain Joe Sakic said. "Everyone is going to want to get out of there healthy and get ready for the playoffs."
Pierre Turgeon tied it 8:22 into the third period and Tanguay, who opened the scoring on a deflection with 13.5 seconds left in the first period, banged in a late rebound for his career-best 29th goal and 400th point.
Jose Theodore made 26 saves in his third straight start since returning from a broken heel, but was beaten cleanly on the short side by Naslund's wrist shot from the left faceoff circle off the rush at 13:46 of the second period.
"The second one was a tough one but he'll be fine," Quenneville said of Theodore, a former Hart and Vezina Trophy winner in Montreal who struggled this season before being traded to Colorado a day before the March 9 deadline.
"We feel he's going to be fine in the net and stabilize our team, and down the stretch and into the playoffs he's proven."
Theodore had little chance on Bertuzzi's rebound goal earlier in the period, and got caught looking the wrong way on Carter's wraparound.
"It's more about just getting back in the groove and playing a couple of games and getting back to doing simple things," said Theodore, who had been out since before the Olympics. "I do feel pretty good. The key was playing games before the playoffs and I've been able to. There's still a couple of details I want to work on, but overall I'm pretty comfortable."
Mika Noronen, making just his second start and fourth appearance since being acquired from Buffalo at the trade deadline, finished with 31 saves for the Canucks.
Morrison won it with a one-timer from the right faceoff circle, but Bertuzzi said it was little consolation.
"I don't think it ever will (take away the sting)," said Bertuzzi, adding he had no explanations for what went wrong with the Canucks. "If I had the answer for you, I wouldn't be doing this last interview."
Notes: Turgeon used his skate to convert a rebound of his own and tie the game after a video review determined there was no kicking motion as he drove hard to the net. Carter led the Canucks with 33 goals. ... Vancouver players gave randomly selected fans the jerseys off their backs after the game. ... Canucks G Alex Auld was selected the team MVP after going 33-26-6 in his first full season while playing 56 of 60 games after Dan Cloutier suffered a season-ending knee injury in November.