VANCOUVER – Mason Raymond has missed out on a number of good scoring chances this season, so he didn’t mind his decisive goal coming on a bit of a fluke.
Raymond’s goal 28 seconds into overtime gave the Vancouver Canucks a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday. He scored the winner following a face-off in the Colorado zone as he poke-checked defenceman Jonas Holos and the puck squeezed past Colorado goaltender Peter Budaj.
“I went to skate behind the net and took a whack at it,” said Raymond. “It’s kind of nice to see one of those go in after some struggles. You take them any way you can get them.”
The Canucks (4-3-2) have claimed nine of a possible 10 points at Rogers Arena this season. The Avalanche (4-4-1) suffered their third straight loss.
It was an important win for the Canucks because they will have to face their Northwest Division-rivals five more times this season before playoff positions are confirmed.
Raymond’s goal salvaged a second point for Vancouver after the Canucks lost a one-goal lead with 1:33 left to play. With Budaj pulled for an extra attacker, Matt Duchene beat Roberto Luongo to send the game to overtime.
The weird winning goal capped a game that featured many subplots.
“We had position on the puck and I thought we had it and he poked it right through me,” said Budaj. “I probably should have had that, but it bounced over my stick.”
David Jones and Daniel Winnik also scored for Colorado. Avalanche defenceman John-Michael Liles established a record for an NHL season-opening assists streak by a defenceman.
Liles recorded an assist for the ninth straight game, setting up Winnik’s second-period goal. The 29-year-old Indianapolis native surpassed the previous mark of eight set by Philip Kuba of the Ottawa Senators in 2008-09.
Colorado played without a backup to Budaj after Avalanche No. 1 netminder Craig Anderson injured his knee in the pre-game warmup. Budaj started the game at Vancouver as scheduled, but Anderson did not sit on the bench during the game.
“I thought Peter responded very well,” said Colorado coach Joe Sacco. “He was getting the start no matter what tonight, so he had a good game for us.”
A team official said after the second period that Anderson is out indefinitely and would fly back to Denver on Wednesday to be evaluated by doctors instead of going with the club to Calgary for a game on Thursday.
Schaefer put the Canucks ahead 3-2 about five minutes into the third with his first goal since March 27, 2008 while playing for Boston against Toronto. He sat out all last season as no team elected to sign him.
As it turned out the goal was a bit of lucky timing. He scored on a hard shot from the side boards following a line change–for his only shift of the third.
“(Manny) Malhotra’s line was out there and had a good shift going,” Schaefer said. “Manny came off and I went out at the right time, got the puck (and) tried to get a shot through the first time. I got it back and we had some traffic in front, so it was nice to get it through.
“I just go out there and try and contribute defensively or physically. It was nice to get it off my back and I hope to keep producing positively.”
“He didn’t play a lot tonight,”added Canucks coach Alain Vigneault. “He only had that one shift there in the third period, and most of that shift was Manny’s line. He got fortunate to step on the ice–but it was a good shot.”
And then there was Luongo, who made 36 often difficult saves. After a slow start, Colorado outshot the Canucks 39-31.
Vigneault opted to go back to his No. 1 goaltender after making the rare move of sitting him for Vancouver’s previous two home games. Luongo preserved a 2-2 deadlock during a Colorado power play late in the second as he slid across his crease to stop Paul Stastny’s one-timer towards an open net. The goaltender called the save his toughest of the night.
“They were cycling the puck pretty well,” said Luongo.
Too much for Vigneault’s liking.Colorado outshot the Canucks 16-8 in the second after the Canucks had enjoyed the same advantage in the first.
“Lui gave us a chance to win tonight–without a doubt,”said Vigneault.“In the second half of the game, we turned the puck over, we got beat to loose pucks, we got beat one-on-one and they took the play to us. They were the better team. He kept us in and gave us a chance to win it on a lucky bounce there at the end.”
Vancouver converted one of three power-play chances while the Avs were blanked on two.
Notes—In a pre-game ceremony, the Canucks made first captain Orland Kurtenbach the inaugural inductee into their new ring of honour…Colorado captain Adam Foote missed his second straight game due to a head injury suffered Oct. 21 in San Jose…Vancouver defenceman Keith Ballard (concussion) and Dan Hamhuis (ankle) remained out with injuries…Avs defenceman Holos is only the sixth Norwegian ever to play in the NHL. His compatriot Anders Myrvold also played for Colorado between 1995-96.