Canucks hang on to defeat Avalanche

Gordon McIntyre, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Canucks did something on Sunday evening they've had trouble accomplishing at home of late.
They not only held onto a third-period lead, but they extended that lead and beat the Colorado Avalanche 3-1 at Rogers Arena.
In five of their previous seven home games, the Canucks had surrendered third-period leads and they won just one of those games, needing overtime.
"That's what we want to do, not sit back and protect a one-goal lead," said Vancouver center Ryan Kesler, whose third-period goal made it 2-0.
His right winger Mike Santorelli had two goals and left winger Chris Higgins two assists as the trio dominated throughout the game.
"We generated a lot of pressure down low and we generated chances off the rush, too," Kesler said.
Santorelli opened scoring 5:34 into the first period with a nifty move on Colorado goalie J.S. Giguere.
Higgins, on a strong forecheck, caused Colorado defenseman Nate Guenin to turn over the puck behind the Avs net.
Higgins fed Santorelli, who deked to his backhand to score.
Higgins again set up Santorelli in the third, his shot from the slot stopped by Giguere but poked home on the rebound by Kesler.
Santorelli, on a 2-on-1 with Higgins, went high over Giguere's shoulder to make it 3-0 at 7:17 of the third.
"When you're playing with two great players, it helps," said Santorelli, who recorded his second two-goal game of the season. "I was going to pass to Higgy, but I saw the defenseman cheating toward him, so I shot instead."
The line was put together three games ago and has combined for six goals and nine points since then while also playing solidly in the defensive zone.
"Santo was our best player tonight, by far," Canucks head coach John Tortorella said. "He's a big reason that line is playing so well."
Colorado broke Roberto Luongo's shutout bid with 7.1 seconds to play and Giguere pulled for an extra attacker, with Jamie McGinn poking the puck past the Vancouver goalie.
Colorado coach Patrick Roy began pulling his goalie with five minutes still left in the game.
"We pulled the goalie with five minutes left in the game for us as coaches to show our players that we don't quit," Roy said. "They did the same thing. They kept going.
"I honestly felt we played a better game than them and, unfortunately, we have nothing to show for the result,"
"I don't think it was the best effort from either team," said Giguere, who faced only 21 Vancouver shots. "That game, there were a lot of whistles, I don't think it was a great hockey game to watch."
It was Giguere's first loss of the season, his record dropping to 7-1-0.
Luongo stopped 28 of 29 shots.
Even though the Canucks jumped to a lead in the sixth minute of the game, Tortorella was not pleased with his club's opening 20 minutes.
"I don't think they realized it was a 5 p.m. start," Tortorella said. "After the first period, even though we were up 1-0, we play like that the rest of the game and we get spanked.
"After the first we defended really well, handled the quickness the Avs have up front really well, keeping them from the areas they wanted to be in."
Nothing was said between the second and third periods about playing with the lead, because nothing needed to be said, Tortorella said.
"It's simple," the coach said. "Stay on your toes, try to gain territory.
"When you talk too much about (protecting leads), it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy."
The Canucks play again on Monday night when they host the Carolina Hurricanes.
Colorado wrapped up a three-game Western Canada swing and hosts the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday in Denver.
NOTES: Colorado has not won a game in Vancouver in nine visits, the Avs' last win at Rogers Arena being a 4-3 shootout victory on April 6, 2010. ... Last season, shortened by an NHL lockout, the Avalanche were 4-16-4 on the road, worst in the NHL. This season, heading into Sunday's game, the Avs sported a 10-3-0 record on the road. ... The Avs are led by a youth movement: Their leading scorer heading into the game was captain LW Gabriel Landesko (21 years, 22 points), followed by C Matt Duchene (22 years, 21 points). C Nathan MacKinnon, the first overall pick in the 2013 NHL entry draft, is still 18 and had 17 points heading into Sunday. ... The Canucks recalled D Yannick Weber from the Utica Comets. Weber had seven points in seven games during his time in the American Hockey League, but he did not dress for Vancouver. D Andrew Alberts drew in for the second straight game for the injured D Alex Edler.

What to Read Next