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Having the Western Conference's best home record has helped the Colorado Avalanche move into a tie atop the Northwest Division. Better efforts on the road should help keep them there.
On Friday night, the Avalanche will try for their third straight road win and move into sole possession of the division lead as they meet the Vancouver Canucks, who are trying to avoid their first five-game losing streak at GM Place in nearly two years.
While the Avalanche are 8-1-0 at home, their play away from the Pepsi Center has improved recently after a rough start. Colorado scored only six goals while losing its first four road games, but have since notched a total of seven in wins at Edmonton and Calgary.
And in spite of their inconsistent play on the road, Colorado has 20 points to tie Minnesota for the Northwest lead. The Wild are idle on Friday.
This contest also is the start of a tough two-week stretch for Colorado (10-5-0), which will play five of its next six on the road, including three in row at Minnesota, Calgary and Edmonton starting on Nov. 16.
The Avalanche wrapped up a four-game homestand on Wednesday with a 4-3 shootout win over Edmonton. Ian Laperriere scored twice in regulation before Wojtek Wolski and Marek Svatos scored in the shootout.
"Tonight, I was in the right place at the right time," Laperriere said. "I'm not a goal scorer, but I know I can help my team in that regard."
Colorado's lone home loss this season came Saturday when Vancouver (7-8-0) came away with a 4-3 win. Daniel Sedin had two goals and an assist while twin brother Henrik added three assists.
Svatos scored twice for Colorado, and Joe Sakic added an assist. Sakic, the Avalanche's longtime captain and all-time scoring leader, has 15 goals and and 33 assists in 34 games there.
The Canucks, who haven't lost five straight at home since Dec. 17-26, 2005, return there after a 3-2 win over Calgary on Thursday. Roberto Luongo, who's struggled after a career-best 47-win season in 2006-07 to the lead Vancouver to the Northwest title, made 22 of his 36 saves in the final period.
"We won two big games on the road in two hard buildings to win in," said Luongo, who also may have made Canucks fans nervous when he allowed goals 33 seconds apart to Anders Eriksson and Owen Nolan midway through the third period.
Last season, Luongo did not lose more than three straight at home en route to a 26-11-4 record with a 2.35 goals-against average. He comes into this contest having lost his last four home starts and is 1-6-0 with a 3.37 GAA at GM Place.
Luongo has surrendered at least three goals in all his home losses, and he's given up seven goals while losing his last two home starts against the Avalanche.
Brendan Morrison, former Flame Byron Ritchie and Alex Burrows scored in a 5:42 span of the second period on Wednesday as Vancouver won for the fifth time in seven road games.