DENVER (AP) — Henrik Sedin scored 40 seconds into overtime and
Roberto Luongo stopped 22 shots for his second straight shutout,
helping the Vancouver Canucks clinch the Northwest Division
title with a 1-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.
By edging Calgary for first place, Vancouver’s second division
crown in three seasons, the Canucks also locked up the third
seed in the Western Conference playoffs in their final game of
the regular season. Vancouver (45-27-10) will enter the
postseason on a three-game winning streak.
Sedin scored by banking in a shot off the skate of Colorado
defenseman Scott Hannan. It was his 22nd goal of the season.
Colorado, which will wrap up the season Sunday at home against
St. Louis, will finish last in the West for the first time since
the team relocated to Denver from Quebec in 1995. The Avalanche
have the third-fewest points (68) in the NHL, behind the New
York Islanders (61) and Tampa Bay (66).
Luongo, who blanked Los Angeles on Thursday, extended the
franchise record with his ninth shutout this season. He has 47
in the NHL, tying him with San Jose’s Evgeni Nabokov for fourth
among active players. New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur is first
Peter Budaj finished with 32 saves for Colorado.
The Canucks secured the division title once the game reached
overtime. Had they lost in regulation, it would have set the
stage for Calgary to win it with a victory over Edmonton on
Saturday night. The Flames had a tiebreaker edge over the
Luongo was exceptional in the second period, stopping a
breakaway chance by T.J. Hensick and gobbling up a loose puck in
the crease before Darcy Tucker could get his stick on it.
Luongo even thwarted a shot by his own defenseman Alexander
Edler, who inadvertently poked the puck into the chest of the
Canucks goalie trying to break up a pass.
Vancouver dominated the opening period, outshooting the
Avalanche, 13-1, at one point, but had nothing to show for it as
Budaj turned everything aside.
Ian Laperriere played in his 1,000th NHL game Saturday, becoming
the second Avalanche player to attain that milestone this
season. Adam Foote reached the mark on October 12.
Laperriere made his debut on March 3, 1994 while with the St.
Louis Blues. The gritty forward has played for four teams and
spent the last four seasons with the Avalanche.