Vancouver (19-9-2) at Colorado (17-9-1)

Fair Currently: Denver, CO
Temp: 52° F
  • Game info: 9:00 pm EST Mon Dec 29, 2003
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Assisting on the tying goal late in regulation to help his team pull out a win was apparently not good enough for Peter Forsberg in his return to the ice.

The star center hopes his second game back in the lineup is significantly better when the Colorado Avalanche host the team they’re chasing in the Northwest Division—the Vancouver Canucks.

Forsberg had missed 19 games with an abdominal-groin injury before rejoining the Avalanche for Saturday’s game against Philadelphia. Though unhappy with his overall play, Forsberg’s hard shot led to Rob Blake’s tip-in goal that tied the game with 1:17 left in the third period.

Milan Hejduk scored 1:42 into overtime as Colorado won 3-2 to end a six-game winless streak (0-2-4).

“I was awful. The first two periods, it was an uphill battle,” said Forsberg, who has five goals and 15 assists in 12 games this season. “I was just trying to play smart, not to do too many stupid things and just play defense. I was bad.”

Forsberg struggled with conditioning after missing 23 of 25 games, but still wound up extending his points streak to seven.

Colorado sits four points behind first-place Vancouver in the Northwest. The teams skated to a 1-1 tie earlier this month in their first meeting of the season.

As if a matchup with its division rival is not motivation enough, the Canucks should have extra incentive to be at their best after an embarrassing performance.

Vancouver suffered its most lopsided loss of the season in Saturday’s 6-2 loss to the last-place Edmonton Oilers. It was the most goals given up this season by the Canucks, who went 0-for-6 on the power play.

“Overall this is a proud team and we usually battle even if we have a tough night, we usually never give up,” Vancouver captain Markus Naslund said. “Tonight was a little different, I thought. We usually don’t get blown out like this.”

It was just the Canucks’ second loss in 10 games (5-2-3).

STANDINGS (through Dec. 27): Canucks - 46 points, 1st place, Northwest Division. Avalanche - 42 points, 2nd place, 4 PB, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Canucks - Naslund, 18 goals and 41 points; Todd Bertuzzi, 26 assists; Jarkko Ruutu, 62 PIM. Avalanche - Hejduk, 17 goals; Alex Tanguay, 28 assists; Joe Sakic, 41 points; Jim Cummins, 111 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 27): Canucks - Power play: 14.4 percent (154 for 180), 18th in NHL. Penalty killing: 86.5 percent (128 for 148), 7th. Avalanche - Power play: 22.3 percent (115 for 148), 4th. Penalty killing: 86.1 percent (130 for 151), 10th.

GOALTENDERS: Canucks - Dan Cloutier (13-8-3, 2 SO, 2.14 GAA); Johan Hedberg (5-2-2, 1, 2.17). Avalanche - David Aebischer (14-6-5, 2, 2.10); Phil Sauve (3-4-2, 0, 2.36).


LAST MEETING: Dec. 11; Tie, 1-1, OT. At Vancouver, Canucks defenseman Ed Jovanovski scored on an end-to-end rush 6:02 into the third period to forge the tie. Aebischer made 37 saves and Blake scored for Colorado.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Canucks - 8-6-2-2 on the road; Avalanche - 10-6-2-0 at home.

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