DENVER – Moments after deflecting in the winning goal, Colorado’s Tyson Barrie did a little dance.
Not bad for a defenceman. The goal, that is. Although the shuffling dance steps weren’t bad, either.
Barrie scored 55 seconds into overtime, Semyon Varlamov stopped 29 shots, and the Avalanche moved a step closer to their first playoff berth in four years with a 3-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night.
“That was a heck of a goal,” Avalanche forward Matt Duchene said.
The pass was pretty good, too.
Duchene dribbled the puck into the corner and sent a sharp pass at Barrie, who was standing in front of the net and tipped it past goalie Eddie Lack.
“I was fortunate,” Barrie said.
With that, the Avs are on the verge of sewing up their first post-season appearance since the 2009-10 season. There was a scenario in which Colorado could have wrapped up a spot on Thursday, but Phoenix prevented that by beating the New Jersey Devils 3-2 in a road shootout.
Colorado also remains on the heels of the Chicago Blackhawks for second in the Central Division. The Avs trail the Blackhawks by one point.
“We want to finish as high as possible,” said Duchene, who also scored a goal. “We aren’t giving anybody a break coming in.”
The game had a playoff feel with all the fights, thrown shoulders and scuffles in the corner.
With good reason: The Canucks are trying to scratch and claw to remain in the post-season picture.
Struggling just a few weeks ago, the Canucks earned a valuable point and are now five points behind Phoenix, which holds the second wild card spot in the Western Conference. But time is quickly running out for the Canucks, who have seven games remaining.
“We’re right there. We’re still in it,” said Canucks coach John Tortorella, whose team had its three-game winning streak snapped. “We’re fine. We’re fine in our room. We’re going to keep on playing.
“No bad news from me here.”
Daniel Sedin recorded his 800th NHL point with an assist in the first period. His twin brother, Henrik, reached that milestone on Oct. 15 at Philadelphia.
Henrik didn’t make the trip because of a leg injury.
The Canucks showed no signs of fatigue despite playing on back-to-back nights. Vancouver kept up with the high-flying Avalanche most of the game, especially in the third period.
“We were in their end zone quite a bit,” Tortorella said. “We grinded. That’s a skilled team. It’s a very quick team. I thought we did a really good job through the neutral zone to slow them down.”
Gabriel Landeskog missed a wide open net early in the second period, only to atone minutes later when he lifted a shot over the shoulder of Lack to give Colorado a 2-1 lead. The Avalanche captain has scored three times in two games.
The Canucks tied it at 18:38 when Zack Kassian stopped a puck headed for the corner with his right skate, quickly corralled it and poked the puck past a sprawled-out Varlamov.
Things got a little testy in the second period. It started early when Patrick Bordeleau and Tom Sestito fought.
Duchene and Ryan Kesler later began shoving each other behind the Vancouver net. On the next shift, Jamie McGinn got into it with Kesler, as well.
When the giant video board showed Kesler sitting on the bench, the Canucks centre made a kissing motion at the screen, drawing loud boos from the crowd.
“They were playing hard,” Duchene said. “They played a great game, and Varly played outstanding as usual.”
Yannick Weber staked Vancouver to a 1-0 lead in the first when he lined a shot past Varlamov for a power-play goal. It was his fifth goal of the season.
Late in the opening period, Duchene tied it by knocking a rebound past Lack, who played for a second straight night.
NOTES: Canucks F David Booth had an assist on Kassian’s goal, giving him four points in three games. … Avs D Erik Johnson played in his 400th NHL game despite having the flu. … It was Barrie’s third OT goal of the season, tying the franchise record set by David Jones in 2010-11. … Varlamov earned his 36th win of the season, the fourth most in franchise history. Hall of Famer turned Avs coach Patrick Roy has the record, winning 40 in the 2000-01 season.