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Canucks 5, Avalanche 2 @NHL

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - Brendan Morrison helped get the Colorado Avalanche out of the Vancouver Canucks' heads.

Morrison scored the go-ahead goal on a breakaway late in the second period, sparking the Canucks to a 5-2 win over Colorado on Wednesday night that ended a long stretch of lopsided losses to the Avalanche.

Since beating Colorado on Oct. 22, Vancouver had been outscored 21-10 in four straight losses to the Avalanche, including a 6-2 defeat in Denver on Sunday.

``It's more of a mental test against these guys,'' Morrison said. ``We know we can beat them and play with them and it was just a matter of going out and doing it and we did it.''

Jarkko Ruutu added a deflection goal 5:25 into the third and Markus Naslund scored his 15th of the season with 5:53 left as the Canucks moved three points ahead of the Avalanche atop the Northwest Division.

Josh Green and Henrik Sedin also scored, and Alex Auld made 30 saves as Vancouver improved to 11-1 at home - the only loss coming against Colorado.

``We showed ourselves if we are committed and play the right way, we can beat them,'' Naslund said.

Joe Sakic and Alex Tanguay scored for Colorado, which had its three-game winning streak snapped despite 39 saves from David Aebischer, who started after winning in Edmonton the night before.

``We knew they would come out flying,'' Sakic said. ``They had the jump and we didn't. They deserved it tonight. They played a lot better than we did.''

After losing two straight last weekend and giving up the first goal in 10 of their last 12 games, the Canucks held a players-only meeting Tuesday.

It didn't seem to help early on. For the second straight game against the Canucks, the Avalanche scored on their first shot. It took 11 seconds Sunday. This time it was 1:52 in before Sami Salo deflected Sakic's wrist shot into his own net.

Unlike Sunday, however, when Colorado added three more in the first period, the Canucks responded with the next two, matching their total from the opening period of all four losses to the Avalanche.

``We're so used to it now, it doesn't really faze us,'' Morrison said of giving up the first goal. ``Ideally, did we want to score first? Yeah, but that's the way it went and we weren't going to sit there and hang our heads tonight. We were going to go out and try to initiate and play our game.''

Green, recalled from Manitoba of the American Hockey League for the fifth time in November earlier in the day, tied it on a breakaway at 11:22. Sedin gave the Canucks the lead 1:30 later, jamming a 4-on-3 power-play rebound past Aebischer.

The Canucks outshot Colorado 14-3 over the final 14 minutes of the first and 13-6 in the second, but Aebischer kept it close, robbing Trevor Linden with a sprawling breakaway save and stuffing Todd Bertuzzi and Sedin in tight.

That allowed Tanguay to tie it 2-all when Auld kicked Rob Blake's long shot right to him alone at the other side of the net for a tap-in.

Aebsicher came up big again as the Avalanche killed off consecutive 5-on-3 power plays after Tanguay's goal, but was left alone for the third time in the game when Karlis Skrastins and Brett Clark collided trying to play Naslund's long pass.

Morrison picked up the loose puck at the blue line and beat him with a deke to his backhand, giving him a goal in two straight games after going 12 without one.

``Defensively we were chasing tonight, but at 2-2 it was fluke play with a collision that turned out to be the deciding play,'' Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said. ``That third goal turned out to be a pivotal goal and they went from there.''

Notes: After playing six times in the first two months, the Canucks and Avalanche won't meet again until Jan. 28 in Denver. ... Colorado has played 11 of its 26 games against Vancouver and Edmonton, but has yet to play a game against Minnesota, another division rival. ... Vancouver plays in Edmonton on Thursday. ... Canucks RW Anson Carter left early in the third and did not return after Antti Laaksonen's high stick clipped him near the eye.

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