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Canucks, Avalanche put win streaks on the line

by Brian Hunter
CANUCKS (6-3-2) at AVALANCHE (6-4-1)


Last 10:
Vancouver 6-3-1; Colorado 5-4-1

Season Series: Second of six meetings this season between these Northwest Division rivals. The Canucks struck first with a 4-3 overtime win on Oct. 26 at Rogers Centre. The Avalanche held 1-0 and 2-1 leads, then rallied from a one-goal deficit when Matt Duchene scored with 1:33 to play in the third period. But a mistake by rookie defenseman Jonas Holos in the extra period allowed Mason Raymond to score the fluke winner at 28 seconds, as Holos cut in front of his own net and Raymond chipped the puck off his stick and past goaltender Peter Budaj.

Big Story: Budaj was scheduled to start the first game against the Canucks as a breather for regular Avalanche goalie Craig Anderson, but Anderson injured his knee during warm-ups and Budaj has started and won two straight since then. The Canucks also come in on a roll, having won their last four, including a victory over the Oilers on Tuesday that snapped an 0-3-1 start on the road.

Team Scope:

Canucks: Although it let a 3-0 lead slip away, Vancouver secured that elusive first road win in Edmonton thanks to former Oiler Raffi Torres, who finished off his first-career hat trick with the game-winning goal at 10:53 of the third period. Daniel Sedin started the scoring for the Canucks with a power-play goal in the first period, then Torres added a pair 3:40 apart. Roberto Luongo wasn't perfect, as he'd been Monday at home in a shutout of the Devils, but he did stop 23 shots.

"(Torres) has been a real solid player for us," coach Alain Vigneault said. "He came into camp with a great attitude and with really good conditioning. He's been doing the right things for us on and off the ice. He had a real big game for us tonight."

Avalanche: On a team full of young talent like the already-established Paul Stastny and the up-and-coming Duchene, it would be easy for a guy like Chris Stewart to get overlooked. But that's going to be harder after Stewart put together an October worthy of Third Star honors from the NHL. His 9 goals and 16 points were both tied for second in the League entering Wednesday's action. Stewart followed up a hat trick against Calgary last Thursday with a goal and an assist as Colorado recorded a 5-1 win over Columbus on Saturday.

"I think the conditioning has helped me later in games now. I think now I've had as much energy in the third period as I do in the first," Stewart told the Denver Post about his offseason training regimen. "Before, I sometimes got tired at the end of games. So many games are right down to the wire, and I want to be fast and on my game and not worn out."

Who's Hot: Torres now has 5 goals in his last three games and 6 for the season, just two behind Daniel Sedin for the Canucks' team lead. Kevin Bieksa assisted on all three of Torres' goals against the Oilers for his first points of the season, and even Luongo drew an assist on the game-winner.

Stewart has 8 goals and 6 assists during an eight-game points streak for the Avalanche. Milan Hejduk has 3 goals and 8 assists during a six-game points streak. Stastny has 3 goals and 4 assists in his last four games.

Injury Report: Vancouver defensemen Ryan Parent (groin) and Dan Hamhuis (foot) are day-to-day. Defenseman Sami Salo (Achilles) and forward Alexandre Bolduc (high ankle sprain) are on injured reserve. Forward Rick Rypien is serving the final game of a six-game suspension.

Anderson's knee injury has him on injured reserve for Colorado along with forwards Peter Mueller (concussion) and David Koci (broken jaw). Defenseman Adam Foote (concussion) is out indefinitely.

Stat Pack: Alexandre Burrows returned to the Canucks' lineup Tuesday for the first time since offseason shoulder surgery. Playing on a line with Daniel and Henrik Sedin, he set career highs last season with 35 goals, 32 assists and 67 points. … Budaj has 89 career wins for the Avalanche, tying him with David Aebischer for third on the franchise's all-time list.

Puck Drop: Even without their No. 1 goalie, the Avalanche are hanging tough in their quest to prove last season's resurgence was no fluke. Saturday's game against the Blue Jackets started a stretch where seven of their next nine games are at the Pepsi Center, giving them an opportunity to make some hay in the Northwest.

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