VANCOUVER, B.C. – Alex Burrows has rich a new contract and is on a goal-scoring tear on the Vancouver Canucks’ top line. Still, he insists he’s still the same gritty, pesky player other teams hate to play against.
“I’m trying still to be the energy guy out there,” Burrows said Sunday after his first period short-handed goal helped Vancouver to a 4-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
“Get on the forecheck, create some loose pucks and at the same time play well defensively.”
Burrows had energy aplenty Sunday. He was all over the ice, blocking shots, creating turnovers and getting called for two roughing penalties in a late scrum as the Canucks tied a 16-year club record with their ninth straight home victory.
His fourth short-handed goal of the season staked the Canucks to a 2-0 lead against an Avalanche team that had won eight in a row against Vancouver.
Burrows tipped a John-Michael Liles pass and skated on to the puck for a breakaway.
He hit the post, Ryan Kesler forced goalie Andrew Raycroft to make a sprawling save and Burrows grabbed a rebound and buried it.
“I kind of swore a few times after I hit the post but Kes made a good play,” said Burrows who has nine goals in his last 11 games and a career high 22.
“It was a big goal, especially short-handed early in the game. The goals are coming, it’s nice, but our team is winning and it’s even nicer.”
Kesler, who had three assists, said Burrows, who had four goals disallowed by video review two seasons ago, is generating his own luck.
“He’s working hard and he’s making that line go right now,” Kesler said. “It’s good to see for him and it’s good for our team too.”
Coach Alain Vigneault called Burrows the Canucks’ best player.
“I like the fact that, when the pressure is on, he finds the way to come in and make the difference,” Vigneault said. “He’s done that on many occasions.”
Kyle Wellwood scored a power-play goal on Vancouver’s first shot and Taylor Pyatt made it 3-0 before the first period ended. Alex Edler added insurance with a late power-play goal.
Ryan Smyth, with his 25th of the season, and Darcy Tucker replied for the Avalanche, who are 31-38-1 and all but eliminated from playoff contention.
Vancouver improved to 36-23-9 and moved three points ahead of sixth-place Columbus Blue Jackets in the Western Conference.
The win also left Vancouver within two points of fourth-place Chicago Blackhawks and five back of Northwest Division-leading Calgary Flames.
“We wanted to exclude ourselves from the bottom three or four teams that are fighting for a playoff spot,” said Kesler.
“Now we’re trying to catch Calgary and Chicago. We have them worried about us now which is a good thing.”
Liles, who assisted on both Colorado goals, said his club was hurt by a poor start.
“A couple plays kind of got us and it’s always tough to come back,” he said.
The Avalanche is also not looking to play a spoiler’s role.
“Right now, it’s playing for pride,” said Liles. “It’s playing for each other”.
“You don’t focus on being a spoiler. But if that’s the case down the road, obviously we’re trying to win every game and if we play a spoiler role, then so be it.”
Mattias Ohlund drew an assist on Edler’s goal to pass Dennis Kearns and Jyrki Lumme as Vancouver’s career points leader for defencemen.
“I haven’t thought about it too much,” said Ohlund who’s in his 11th season with Vancouver and has 322 points on 91 goals and 232 assists.
“I guess when you’re looking back … it means you’ve played a lot of games, got a few points. I’ve never been a high-scoring or a high-point guy but I guess it means you’ve done a decent job.”
Colorado defenceman Daniel Tjarnqvist was cut above the right eye by his own helmet that stopped a deflected shot in the second period and did not return.
“He’s going to be fine,” said coach Tony Granato. “Obviously, he had some stitches. We thought it was better to keep him out the rest of the way.”
NOTES: The teams meet three more times before the regular season ends … Defenceman Lawrence Nycholat faced his former team for the first time, playing 11 minutes 18 seconds … he played 14 games for the Canucks before being claimed off waivers March 3 by Calgary and traded the next day to Colorado … Avalanche winger Cody McCormick served the last of his two-game suspension for high-sticking Cal Clutterbuck of the Minnesota Wild … the Canucks announced their 250th consecutive home sellout.