DENVER (AP) - Clinging to seventh spot after a dramatic 3-2 loss in Calgary Tuesday, the Canucks were desperate for a bounce-back effort in Denver.
They showed plenty of fire rallying from an early 1-0 deficit, but lost control of the wheel in the second giving up four goals in a seven minute span as they were buried 6-3 by the Avalanche Wednesday.
Roberto Luongo gave up five goals on 23 shots before Curtis Sanford took the crease in relief as the Canucks dropped their third straight game in regulation – the first time they’ve done that all season.
The setback drops them into eighth spot, two back of the Avalanche, but more importantly, only two up on the Nashville Predators with just five games left.
A familiar duo did most of the damage for the Avalanche as Peter Forsberg and Milan Hejduk teamed up for six points in the win. Daniel Sedin, Taylor Pyatt, and Sami Salo scored for the Canucks, who lost Brendan Morrison to an injury in the second period and face a tough game in Minnesota Friday before returning home for the final four.
The Avs meanwhile, moved past the Canucks and into seventh place in the tight Western Conference playoff race with their second straight win on home ice following a four-game skid. Forsberg played a big part.
"I don't know if I'm back yet,” said Forsberg had three assists after being moved up to the second line with Hejduk and Paul Stastny. “Those weren't the prettiest points, but I'll take them anyway.”
Forsberg doubled his point total since rejoining the Avalanche on March 4, nine days after signing with a $1 million deal for the remainder of the season.
He has yet to score a goal in his second go-round with the Avalanche, a team he won two Stanley Cup championships with before their split following the league's lockout in 2004-05.
Forsberg, who sat out the first four months of the season because of a right foot injury and is coming off a strained groin, said he's finally skating better.
It's not uncommon for Hejduk to have a strong game against the Canucks. He did it again with 2 goals and an assist.
Announced he's back and ready to make a run with a three-assist effort.
A goal and two assists for the third member of this line.
"I think so. I'm going to keep working. It's hard to not put pressure on yourself," he said. "Of course, I want to produce and score a couple of goals. At least I was playing a little better today than I was in the past couple of games."
Coach Joel Quenneville noticed early on and late in the first period he replaced Ryan Smyth on the second line with Forsberg. The move worked wonders: the trio of Milan Hejduk (two goals, one assist), Paul Stastny (one goal, two assists) and Forsberg combined for nine points after that.
"People are playing a lot of attention to Milan and Paul because they're great players. They worked hard creating for each other," said Forsberg, who played on a line with Hejduk in 2002-03, when Hejduk had his only 50-goal season and Forsberg won the MVP. "It's great to be playing with Milan; he's such a natural goal scorer."
Stastny said the addition of Forsberg opened things up for everyone on the line.
"Any time you have a top-caliber player they've got to respect what he does," Stastny said. "He can score, too. He hasn't scored yet, but he's a pass-first player these days. Hedgie's the natural goal scorer on that line, but we can chip in here and there. You have to watch all of us and it makes it easier to move around."
A minute later, McLeod's fourth goal of the season, off a long pass from John-Michael Liles, put the Avs in front 3-2, and Hejduk made it 4-2 with his 24th goal on assists from Stastny and Forsberg.
A minute after that, Guiete's 11th goal forced the Canucks to switch goalies.
"Every period is huge when you're playing a divisional game," Forsberg said. "It's good for the confidence when you get a couple of goals and get to score a couple of goals on Luongo. When they scored to make it 5-3 it was a tough goal to let up at the end of the second."
Jose Theodore, who had allowed just seven goals in his first four starts against Vancouver, allowed his third of the night with 9.4 seconds left in the second period when Salo scored from the right point to pull the Canucks to 5-3.
Hejduk made it 6-3 with a wrist shot 23 seconds into the third period.
The Avalanche finished 1-for-2 on the power play while the Canucks went 0-for-4.
Theodore improved to 4-0-1 against Vancouver this season with a 2.00 goals-against average.
Notes: Avs D Jordan Leopold scored his fifth goal of the season and second in 48 hours to give Colorado a 1-0 lead in the first period. He later suffered a minor hip injury. ... Hejduk scored his 31st and 32nd career goals against Vancouver. ... Avs D Adam Foote (hip) missed his third straight game.
1 - 0 COL
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 VAN
2 - 2 Tie
3 - 2 COL
4 - 2 COL
5 - 2 COL
5 - 3 COL