No team has been better this month than the Colorado Avalanche. That still may not be enough to get them into the playoffs for the 12th straight season.
The red-hot Avalanche look to extend a 12-game point streak and continue their late-season push for the playoffs Tuesday night when they host the Vancouver Canucks in the back end of a home-and-home series.
Colorado (39-29-7) recorded arguably its most impressive victory during its 10-0-2 run Sunday at Vancouver, rallying from a two-goal deficit in the second period before winning 5-4 in a shootout.
Brett McLean scored midway through the second and netted the only goal of the shootout as Colorado remained five points behind Calgary in the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Avalanche have seven regular-season games left, two against the Flames.
“We were definitely a desperate team tonight and that’s the type of attitude we have to bring for every single shift,” McLean said. “We executed well and did the things we’ve done to get back into this playoff race.”
A win or overtime loss in this game would give Colorado its longest point streak since a 14-game run from Jan. 20-Feb. 20, 2003.
Captain Joe Sakic continued his stellar play Sunday with two goals, giving him seven goals and six assists during a six-game point streak. Sakic moved into a tie with former teammate Ray Bourque for ninth on the NHL’s career points list with 1,579, and into a 15th-place tie with Dino Ciccarelli on the goals list with 610.
“It’s an honor to be with those guys, but there’s a lot more important stuff right now and that’s for us to try and make the playoffs,” Sakic said.
Andrew Brunette, who assisted on both of Sakic’s goals, has one goal and 12 assists during an eight-game point streak of his own. Brunette also leads the Avs in scoring against the Canucks (45-23-7) this season with four goals and four assists.
Peter Budaj, who had been 9-0-2 in his last 11 starts, was pulled in the first period after allowing three goals on 13 shots. Jose Theodore, making his first appearance in a month, benefited from Colorado’s improved defense, stopping six of seven shots over the final 47:13 before denying all three attempts in the shootout.
Sunday’s victory was Colorado’s fourth in six meetings this season with Vancouver. The Avalanche are 3-0-0 at home this season against the Canucks and 6-0-1 with one tie there since their last regulation loss on Feb. 16, 2004.
Sunday’s loss ended a four-game win streak for Vancouver, which is 4-0-2 in its last six games. The Canucks are tied with Minnesota for the Northwest Division lead, with one game in hand on the Wild.
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault wasn’t pleased that his team managed only four total shots in the second and third periods.
“I’m hoping they’re as disappointed or embarrassed as I am about this performance tonight,” he said.
Henrik Sedin had three assists to give him 63 this season, breaking Andres Boudrais’ franchise record of 62 set in 1974-75.
Defenseman Sami Salo is expected to return to the Canucks’ lineup Tuesday after missing three games with a groin injury. Defenseman Mattias Ohlund, though, will miss his second straight game with an elbow injury.