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Canucks continue late push against Avalanche

by John Kreiser

CANUCKS (34-30-10) at AVALANCHE (45-21-6)


Last 10: Vancouver 6-4-0; Colorado 5-4-1

Season series: The Vancouver Canucks make their only trip of the season to Denver for the second of three games against the Colorado Avalanche. They won 3-1 at Rogers Arena and will host the Avalanche again on April 10.

Big story: One season after finishing with the fewest points in the Western Conference, the Avalanche can clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs if they beat the Canucks in any fashion and the Phoenix Coyotes lose to the New Jersey Devils in any fashion.

The Canucks are making a late push for a playoff spot and head to Pepsi Center looking for their second win in as many nights. Vancouver won its third in a row by beating the Minnesota Wild 5-2 on Wednesday.

Team Scope:

Canucks: All of a sudden, the puck has started going in for the Canucks; not surprisingly, they're starting to put some wins on the board. Vancouver has scored 26 non-shootout goals in its past eight games, including nine in back-to-back wins against the Buffalo Sabres and the Wild that moved the Canucks within four points of the Phoenix Coyotes for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

"The guys feel better about themselves. They're just going out and playing hockey," first-line left wing Daniel Sedin said after scoring his first goal of 2014 in the victory at Minnesota.

The Canucks fly back to Vancouver after the game against the Avalanche for a five-game homestand; in all, they play six of their final seven games at Rogers Arena.

Avalanche: Colorado hasn't lost four games in a row all season, but it came close on Tuesday. The Avalanche trailed 2-0 late in the first period and 4-3 late in the third, but rallied each time before winning the shootout to end a three-game slide.

Coach Patrick Roy singled out forwards Paul Stastny and Gabriel Landeskog for leading the comeback.

"[Tuesday] was a good example of leadership. We barely touched the puck in the first period," Roy said Wednesday. "The shots were something like 13-1, and the scoring chances were even worse. But these two guys, at the end of the first, made a big play -- Paul made a nice pass to Landy for the shot and it was 2-1. We were back in the game. That gave life to our team. In the second period, they scored another nice one to tie it. These guys work really well together.

Roy said Semyon Varlamov will play against the Canucks and against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday afternoon.

Who's hot: Canucks forward David Booth scored twice against the Wild and has three goals in two games after going scoreless in his previous 32. … Landeskog had two goals and an assist in Nashville; he has scored three goals in three games. Stastny had two assists against the Predators, giving him three in as many games.

Injury report: The Canucks are without center Henrik Sedin (leg), who didn't make the trip. Forward Mike Santorelli (season-ending shoulder surgery) and defenseman Andrew Alberts (concussion) are out. … Avalanche center John Mitchell (back) might be ready to return against Vancouver, though Roy said it's more likely he won't be back until Saturday. Forwards PA Parenteau (knee) and Alex Tanguay (knee) are out.

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