VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP)—Vancouver goaltender Andrew Raycroft(notes) knew he wasn’t going to make his old Colorado team regret letting him go, not with his replacement, Craig Anderson(notes), leading the league in wins and save percentage.
Nope, he’s been satisfied helping his new team survive a rash of injuries.
Making his third straight start since star goalie Roberto Luongo(notes) was forced out with a hairline rib fracture, Raycroft made 18 saves to lead the Vancouver Canucks over the Colorado Avalanche 3-0 on Sunday night.
“That was a big win for us,” said Raycroft, who was pulled after giving up four goals on 22 shots through 40 minutes of a 7-2 loss in Anaheim on Friday night. “We didn’t play our best the other night. Three (games) in four (nights), travel and everything else: We played well tonight against the best team in the league and we shut them down, so it was good.”
Mason Raymond(notes) and Ryan Kesler(notes) each had a goal and an assist, and Tanner Glass(notes) rounded out the scoring midway through the third period as the Canucks won for the sixth time in their last seven home games. Missing seven regulars, Vancouver tightened up defensively against the Western Conference-leading Avalanche.
“We’re obviously battling the injury bug,” Raycroft said. “If we can get through this stretch and play well like we are we’ll get wins and come out of it ahead of the game.”
Anderson made 17 saves as the road-weary Avalanche lost consecutive games in regulation for the first time. Colorado, which wrapped up a four-game road trip, was on an 8-0-1 run before losing 3-1 in San Jose Friday.
“I can’t score goals, but at the same time it s a good opportunity for me to step up and throw a shutout and get this thing to overtime,” Anderson said.
First-year Colorado coach Joe Sacco believes his team is showing signs of playing 11 of the last 13 games on the road, and looks forward to going home for three.
“I don’t know if there isn’t a little bit of fatigue setting in from being on the road so much, he said. “We certainly didn’t look like we had our legs in San Jose or tonight for the most part. We just didn’t seem sharp, we just didn’t seem to have the jump like we usually have.”
That made for a relatively easy night for Raycroft, who wasn’t tested often but did stop Paul Stastny(notes) on a 2-on-1 shortly after Raymond opened the scoring. He also got a break when Philippe Dupuis(notes) and Ryan O’Reilly(notes) both hit the post less than a minute after Glass scored, preserving his seventh career shutout.
“I feel a lot better,” said Raycroft, whose last shutout came almost exactly two years ago while he was with Toronto. “I felt good the other night. I just kind of lost focus on a couple but tonight I stayed focused all night.”
Anderson, who tied an NHL record with 10 wins in October, has played every minute for Colorado. But he didn’t get much help, especially on rebounds.
Raymond opened the scoring by banging a rebound midway through the first period, and helped set up Kesler’s goal 6:28 into the second. Just one minute after Glass hit the post during a Canucks flurry, Raymond made a cross-ice pass to Sami Salo(notes), who one-timed it from the left point. The puck trickled under Anderson’s arm toward the goal line before Kesler jammed it over.
“We wanted to get to him and get those second and third opportunities and whack them home,” Raymond said.
“Just got to work on controlling my rebounds a little better,” Anderson said. “All three goals were a direct result of loose pucks that hit me.”
The Avalanche didn’t get a shot on consecutive power plays, including a 5-on-3 for 35 seconds, late in the first period, and is 0 for 14 the last five games.
Colorado’s second-ranked penalty kill was perfect on three chances against the Canucks’ second-ranked power play, including a four-minute advantage early in the third period, and has now killed off 23 straight over the last six games.
The injury-ravaged Canucks got third-line center Kyle Wellwood(notes) back eight days after breaking his big toe blocking a shot. But speedy second-line winger Michael Grabner(notes), who had five points in his first nine NHL games, rolled his ankle warming up, leaving Vancouver with seven injured players and forcing defenseman Aaron Rome(notes) to play a third straight game as a forward.
“He ll be out for quite some time,” coach Alain Vigneault said of Grabner.
NOTES: Canucks D Mathieu Schneider(notes) was a healthy scratch as the 40-year-old veteran played his first four games in six nights after missing the start of the season recovering from summer shoulder surgery. … Anderson became the first Colorado goalie to start 15 straight since Patrick Roy, who started 16 consecutive games through February 1999. Colorado plays its next three, and four of the next five, at home, where it is 4-0-0 this season.