Canucks 4, Avalanche 2
The Vancouver Canucks shook up their forward lines, and the moves paid off immediately against the Colorado Avalanche.
Vancouver got goals from three of its four new lines, including a disputed goal by Ryan Kesler 3:52 into the third period that stood up as the game winner in a 4-2 victory over Colorado on Wednesday night.
Alex Burrows added an insurance goal with 6:53 left, and Kevin Bieksa and Daniel Sedin also scored as the Canucks snapped a four-game losing streak to move into a tie with Colorado atop the Northwest Division.
''We had a lot more balance,'' said captain Henrik Sedin, who had two assists after Burrows moved back onto the top line that combined for six points.
Burrows and Daniel Sedin each has goal and an assist. Jeff Tambellini was called up from the American Hockey League earlier Wednesday and was added to the second line alongside Kesler. Bieksa tipped in a shot from Mikael Samuelsson, who was dropped from the first line to the third.
''It means guys are playing in the right spots, playing the right minutes,'' Henrik Sedin said after Vancouver matched its goal total from the previous three losses. ''It's good for us.''
Matt Duchene scored, and defenseman John-Michael Liles had a goal and an assist for the Avalanche, who lost for the first time in five games.
''I don't think we had the intensity that we needed for such a big game,'' said goalie Peter Budaj, who took over to start the second period after Craig Anderson hurt his groin. ''Every one of us can do a little better.''
Budaj finished with just 10 saves, but at least half of them were great. He had little chance on the three that beat him, including Kesler's 100th NHL goal.
The goal was originally waved off because it appeared Tambellini knocked in the rebound of Kesler's shot with a high stick after it bounced high over Budaj. Replays showed Tambellini missed the puck, but hit Budaj in the mask before the puck bounced in off Budaj's back.
''I knew I hit something hard so I wasn't sure if it was the puck or his head,'' Tambellini said.
Budaj wondered why there wasn't a high-sticking penalty after he was whacked in the mask.
''It's just a tough way to get scored on,'' Budaj said. ''The puck went straight up and I was turning. Somebody hit me in the face or the back of the head.''
The call on the ice was overturned after a length video review, giving the Canucks a 3-1 lead and Kesler his 100th NHL goal.
''It's a nice milestone. It's all from hard work,'' Kesler said. ''Our line's been working hard and it's good to get a greasy one like that.''
Duchene pulled Colorado back within one less than three minutes later, jamming a sharp angle shot through Roberto Luongo, who made 21 saves. But Burrows scored on a 3-on-2 break with the identical twins to restore the two-goal cushion.
''If I play with them I know I have to give them the puck as much as I can and they are going to make plays in the offensive zone,'' Burrows said.
It was a costly game for the Avalanche, who lost starting goalie Craig Anderson and veteran defenseman Adam Foote to injuries before the second period.
Foote had to be helped off the ice after sustaining a leg injury with 30 seconds left in the first period. Anderson started the second on the bench because of a groin injury. Both will be re-evaluated Thursday, Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. Colorado might need to call up a goalie for Thursday night's game at Edmonton.
''When you lose a defenseman, you're down to five so that changes the chemistry a bit back there,'' Sacco said. ''But overall we just weren't good enough.''
NOTES: Tambellini, who had seven points in seven AHL games, had an assist. ... Anderson stopped six of seven shots before leaving. ... During a pregame ceremony, the Canucks honored former goalie Kirk McLean, who is now the Avalanche goaltending consultant, with the second spot in their new Ring of Honor. ... Vancouver has won all three meetings with the Avalanche this season. ... Colorado is 0-7 when scoring two or fewer goals.