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Avalanche pick up first win of the season edging the Canucks 3-2

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Colorado forward Marek Svatos cut an inch off his stick and scored his first two goals of the season during the Avalanche's 3-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.

"If that's all it takes. I'm going to go shorter and shorter on the stick every day." said Svatos. who scored 32 goals last season.

Svatos tried to go with a longer hockey stick this season to generate more power. but it wasn't working. It was only generating frustration.

On his second goal. the game-winner with 5:44 remaining. he didn't use his stick at all. Instead. Svatos used his skate. The referees looked at a replay of the goal and ruled he didn't attempt to kick it in. On replay. it looked as if he did knock it in with his stick. but Svatos confessed.

"It went off my feet." Svatos said. "It was a lucky goal."

Daniel Sedin opened the scoring for Vancouver with his third goal of the season early in the first period. Wojtek Wolski answered for Colorado later in the first. Svatos scored his first goal early in the second period before Markus Naslund tied it for the Avalanche at the end of the period.

Svatos lucky goal made up for one that was disallowed late in the second period. The Avalanche thought they had the go-ahead goal by Ian Laperriere with 9.2 seconds left. but the refs ruled the whistle had blown for a penalty before the goal. Laperriere. who thought he'd scored his 100th career goal. had already begun celebrating. The Avalanche failed to score on the power play after the hooking penalty on Jan Bulis.

Laperrieri was disheartened he didn't get his 100th Sunday. but the win lessened the disappointed.

"They're human." he said of the officials. "They make mistakes. It's too bad. but if we would've lost it would've been a different story. We won so it doesn't matter."

Jose Theodore stopped 26 shots for Colorado. while Roberto Luongo turned away 32 for Vancouver.

The Avalanche head into a five-day break with a much needed win. They'd lost their first two games in overtime.

"We can relax a little more." Laperriere said. "We're not thinking about when we're going to get that first win."

Vancouver dropped its first game after winning two straight on the road to open the season.

All three of Colorado's goals were off power plays. The Avalanche were 3-for-8 on the power play Sunday.

"You expect that on the road." Luongo said. "We held them off for much of the game only to give one up at the end."

The Avalanche scored all three the same way - by putting traffic in front of the net.

"All on passes from behind the net off rebounds." Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. "Give them credit. They found a way to put the puck in the net off second opportunities."

Joe Sakic had a pair of assists in the game and now has 87 points against Vancouver. the most of any active player.

Theodore came up big for Colorado in the closing minutes. Colorado's Mark Rycroft was called for high sticking with 3:05 left and the Canucks fired shot after shot at Theodore. Vancouver even pulled Luongo with 1:39 remaining.

"I take a lot of pride in making the big saves when they count." Theodore said. "At the end you are anxious to see the time run out."

The bad blood that had existed between Vancouver and Colorado has subsided with the Canucks' trade of Todd Bertuzzi to the Florida Panthers last June. Bertuzzi was booed every time he came to Colorado after he fractured former Avalanche forward Steve Moore's neck with a hard open-ice body check in 2004.

Luongo. who was acquired from Florida for Bertuzzi. is 0-5 against Colorado with four of the losses coming while he was with Florida.

After the game. it was almost therapeutic for Luongo to talk about the game-winning goal by Svatos.

"I think Sakic took a wrist shot with a screen and I made the save." he said. "It went just a bit too far and Svatos banged it right through my legs."

Colorado coach Joel Quenneville was just pleased to see Svatos get back on track.

"I think we are starting to see him back to what he's capable of." Quenneville said.

Notes: Brett Clark matched a career-best with two assists. ... Sedin played in his 400th career NHL game and scored his third goal of the season in the first period. With his second-period goal. Naslund is one away from 300.



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