VANCOUVER – A conversation between the Vancouver Canucks’ top line helped them find their scoring touch.
Daniel Sedin’s third-period goal lifted Vancouver to a 4-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday, the Canucks’ sixth-straight victory.
The line of Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Alex Burrows struggled to put up points during the first five games of the streak, combining for just two goals and three assists.
However, Thursday they each had a goal and an assist, finally getting rewarded for hard work, and maybe a little added focus, thanks to a chat the three of them had before the game.
“We talked about how we wanted to play,” said Burrows. “The team puts a lot of emphasis on us to score some goals and bring some offence but if that’s the only thing we think about we are not going to get there.
“We want to make sure we stay close together and make the other team play a 200-foot game against us. Sometimes if we are pressing too much the other team is going the other way and we are far apart and not supporting each other.”
Daniel Sedin took a feed from Burrows at the top of the left circle and his low wrist shot beat Semyon Varlamov between the legs, with Henrik Sedin screening in front at 11:32 of the third.
The goal was Daniel Sedin’s 10th of the year, after recording just one goal in his past 13 games.
Daniel Sedin also assisted on Burrows’ first-period goal, putting him two points behind his team-leading brother at 30 points. Henrik Sedin and Chris Higgins had empty-net goals.
“They’ve been playing well,” said Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault of his top unit. “They’ve been spending some time in the other team’s end and they’ve been getting some chances. They weren’t getting a lot of reward for their effort but tonight they did.”
Cory Schneider stopped 30 shots, moving Vancouver (19-9-6) two points up on idle Minnesota in the Northwest Division standings.
Schneider has allowed just six goals during the winning streak, further entrenching his position as the team’s No. 1 goaltender, ahead of Roberto Luongo who awaits a possible trade before Wednesday’s deadline.
Matt Duchene scored for Colorado (11-18-4), who has now lost four in a row and is tied for the fewest points in the NHL. Varlamov made 16 saves in the loss. Their road record dropped to 2-12-3.
“If there was one positive to take out of the game is we didn’t get down after they scored the first goal and they didn’t take a 2-0 lead,” said Avalanche forward P.A. Parenteau. “We stuck with it all game, we played really well throughout the course of the game here but at the end of the day its disappointing we didn’t end up with the two points.”
Burrows opened the scoring for the Canuck at 4:27. Daniel Sedin made a no-look backhand pass to Henrik Sedin just outside the slot and the Canucks captain found Burrows at the side of the net for an easy tap in, giving him nine goals on the year.
“We got the first goal a little too easy, made a lot of plays, thought the game was going to be easier than it was,” said Henrik Sedin. “They got a power play and took over the game, and momentum is hard to get back.”
Colorado went on a 10-0 run in shots on goal after Burrows took a holding penalty midway through the first. The Avalanche outshot the home team 21-15 through 40 minutes.
Schneider was up to the task, making numerous key saves, including two or three stops on Jamie McGinn on the power play. With six minutes to go in the first Schneider made another good stop, coming across to rob Milan Hejduk’s one-timer after Erik Johnson made a nice move to set him up in front of the Vancouver net.
“The first period we could have had two or three goals but their goalie played very well, Schneider was very good tonight,” said Colorado head coach Joe Sacco.
The second period saw little in the way of offence, but Colorado tied it up four minutes into the third.
Parenteau went behind the net and stripped two Canucks of the puck before centring for Duchesne in the slot. Though Schneider got a piece of the one-timer, it beat him glove side, giving the Haliburton, Ont., native 13 goals on the year, and his first in seven games.
“Parenteau was in tight there and I may have committed a little too soon,” said Schneider. “If I recognized it was him, he’s more of a passer, so perhaps should have kept my feet a little longer. But Duchene made a nice play, kind of curled it around the defenceman in the slot, got it up, and sort of nicked me and went in.”
Parenteau was obviously not too pleased with another road loss but found some positives in it.
“Most encouraging: I would say this is the best game we’ve played on the road for sure in about two months,” he said.
“It was a tough game, a grind,” said Vigneault. “That team has a tremendous amount of speed up front and come at you hard. And they did–they forced the issue on the forecheck, had their Ds pinching. It made it for a hard battle on the walls in our end and they tied it up in the third.”
Vancouver began to show some signs of life again after the Colorado goal and at 11:32 Sedin put the Canucks up for good.
“I think they rang a bell or something and we started going back to work and after that we were all right, but for that 30 minutes in the middle we weren’t very good,” said Burrows.
Henrik Sedin and Higgins chipped in with empty-net goals 44 seconds apart.
Notes: Vancouver has not lost in regulation to Colorado since Oct. 3, ’09, going 18-0-2 in that stretch…Colorado was without Paul Stastny (foot), Steve Downie (knee) and Ryan Wilson (ankle)…Vancouver was without Keith Ballard (foot), Zack Kassian (back), Ryan Kesler (broken foot) and David Booth (ankle surgery)…Colorado’s Ryan O’Reilly had a four-game point streak snapped.