The Vancouver Canucks finally stopped working overtime.
Jannik Hansen scored the tiebreaking goal with 6:29 remaining, and the Canucks beat the Colorado Avalanche 3-1 on Wednesday night.
The late goal kept the Canucks from going to overtime for the ninth time in 11 games.
Hansen, who had gone 12 games without a goal, took Cody Hodgson’s pass and drilled a shot over the shoulder of backup goalie Semyon Varlamov to give Vancouver a 2-1 lead. A defensive zone turnover led to Hansen’s 14th of the season and first game-winner. Alex Burrows scored his 20th of the season into an empty net.
”Now we get off a little earlier than normal,” Hansen said. ”It’s nice to only have to play 60 (minutes).”
David Booth opened the scoring for the Canucks, who are 13-0-2 against the Avalanche since their last loss to Colorado on Nov. 1, 2009.
Erik Johnson tied the game for the Avalanche with a second-period goal.
The Canucks (36-15-6) again closed to within two points of Western Conference-leading Detroit with their eighth win in 11 games. They also have points in the three overtime losses.
The Avalanche (28-26-4), who had earned at least one point in four straight games, are three points below the postseason cutoff in the West.
Roberto Luongo made 29 saves and held Colorado off the score sheet in the final minutes. He made a close-in stop against Paul Stastny and robbed Ryan O’Reilly on the rebound.
”After the second (period) I was already getting mentally ready for the shootout,” said Luongo, whose previous six starts went into overtime. ”I was thinking about the shooters, the whole thing, but it was nice to get one there in regulation.”
The Canucks have gotten quite comfortable by playing so many close games.
”We were patient,” Luongo said. ”We didn’t force things. We waited for them to make a mistake and we capitalized on that big one that they had there.”
Varlamov made two key saves to keep the game tied through 40 minutes. He got a glove on a quick shot by Maxim Lapierre and a right pad on Booth’s attempt after he broke in alone.
”He made some big-time stops for us to keep us in the game in the second and the third,” said Stastny, who tested Luongo five times. ”He was definitely the bright spot for us.”
The Avalanche are struggling to get up into a playoff position in the West, and if they fail to qualify, they will have their poor record in the Northwest Division to blame. Colorado is 2-13-1 against its division rivals.
”If we look back here and end up coming up a little bit short for the playoffs, obviously you look inside your division. You can’t have that bad of a record,” defenseman Shane O’Brien said. ”For whatever reason, we can’t find a way to get it done against this division.”
Booth gave the Canucks the lead with his third goal in three games, 13 seconds after the opening faceoff. He took Mason Raymond’s pass in the Colorado zone, drove through traffic and beat starting goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere with a backhander over his glove.
Booth was falling as he scored his 11th of the season and seventh in 12 games since he returned from a knee injury.
The Canucks peppered Giguere, who had to be sharp to stay in front of several point drives through traffic.
Giguere left the game with a groin injury during a television timeout at 16:06 of the first period. The Avs also lost winger T.J. Galiardi to an injury midway through the period.
”I thought we regrouped. We dug in,” Colorado coach Joe Sacco said. ”We faced a little bit of adversity there, but I liked the way our guys responded being short-handed on the bench.”
Luongo sprawled to foil Kevin Porter’s tip of Jay McClement’s pass through the crease to keep Vancouver ahead with 2.7 seconds left in the opening period.
Colorado dominated early in the second period, and Luongo didn’t bite on Gabriel Landeskog’s fake as the Swedish rookie came close during a power play.
The Avalanche kept pressing and tied it when Johnson, who had only one goal in his first 50 games, scored his second in two nights.
Luongo blocked Johnson’s first shot, Milan Hejduk controlled the rebound, and returned the puck to Johnson who had a wide-open net.
NOTES: Peter Mueller, who had five goals in nine games, was out of the Avalanche lineup because of a torso injury. … Hejduk played in his 968th game for Colorado, moving him into second place on the franchise’s games-played list behind the retired Joe Sakic. Hejduk turned 36 on Tuesday. … Colorado C Matt Duchene is practicing with the team, but sat out his 19th game with a right knee injury. … F Chris Higgins returned to the Vancouver lineup after missing six games because of a bad reaction to medication prescribed for a bacterial infection. … The Avs will complete a three-game Western Canada swing Friday at Edmonton and Sunday at Winnipeg.