DENVER – Cory Schneider’s saves ranged from the routine to the extraordinary. They all added up to his second career shutout.
Schneider stopped 24 shots, Manny Malhotra and Alexandre Burrows had early goals, and the Vancouver Canucks extended a run of dominance against the Colorado Avalanche with a 3-0 win on Wednesday night.
Ryan Kesler added an empty-net goal at 19:30 of the third period to round out the scoring.
“He made some incredible saves, some highlight-reel saves, but more importantly, he made the saves we expect him to make,” Malhotra said. “When you have that kind of confidence in your goalie, a lot of good things are going to happen.”
Certainly, that has been the case against the Avalanche.
The victory was Vancouver’s 10th in the past 12 meetings with Colorado, which fell to 1-2 in an eight-game run at the Pepsi Center that stands out as the longest continuous homestand in franchise history.
“It’s hard to win hockey games when you don’t score a goal, and right now we’re in a little bit of a funk here at home,” Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. “We’re not scoring for whatever reason and certainly at times like this you need production from your best players, and we’re not getting it from them right now.”
Colorado centre Paul Stastny, who has been off his all-star form, had no argument with Sacco’s assessment after the Avalanche were shut out for the third time this season.
“Our performance is embarrassing,” he said. “We can’t score goals. We are being too cute. We need to show more drive, more desperation and just get to the net.”
Colorado had come in as the third-most prolific shooting team in the league, averaging 33.5 shots per game. But the Avalanche were outshot as they struggled to find openings in Vancouver’s defence as well as break through against Schneider.
“We prepare well for them, we know what to expect,” Burrows said. “For some reason, we’ve been getting good goaltending and good performances by everyone. It makes it easier for us to beat them.”
Schneider, the backup to Roberto Luongo, preserved the shutout with consecutive saves near the end of a third-period power play. He stuffed a shot on the left side of the net by Ryan O’Reilly and then wheeled to his right to block O’Reilly’s attempt to shove in the rebound.
“It was one of our best efforts all year. We blocked tons of shots and we kept them to the outside,” Schneider said. “We didn’t give them a whole lot other than on the power play. That’s when I have to come up big and make a few saves. It’s on me to make a few saves like that.”
The loss also extended the Avalanche’s difficulties at home, where they have won only three times in 11 games.
Leading 1-0, the Canucks added to their advantage when Burrows knocked in his sixth goal of the season midway through the second period.
With defencemen Shane O’Brien sliding across the crease and goalie Semyon Varlamov dropping to his knees in an attempt to block the shot, Burrows went high, lifting the puck over them both and into the upper corner of the net.
Malhotra scored the game’s first goal at 17:03 of the opening period. Cody Hodgson shot him a centring pass from the corner and Malhotra wristed the puck past Varlamov from up close for his first goal of the season.
Notes: Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault recorded his 247th victory, surpassing Marc Crawford as the Canucks’ winningest coach. … Avalanche rookie Gabriel Landeskog celebrated his 19th birthday on Wednesday … The Avs’ Chuck Kobasew remains one goal shy of 100 for his career. … Schneider registered his first shutout against Anaheim last March 6. … The game marked the first of six meetings this season between the Northwest Division teams. … The Canucks (0 for 3) and Avalanche (0 for 4) were a combined 0 for 7 on the power play.