Avalanche 3, Canucks 1

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Cody McCormick and Andrew Brunette scored in a 1:34 span of the third period, and Peter Budaj made 21 saves to help the Colorado Avalanche beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 on Sunday night.

The Avalanche, 5-0-1 in their last six games, moved into a tie for first place with the Canucks in the Northwest Division.

With the game tied at 1, Ben Guite and Henrik Sedin battled for the puck on the left boards. Sedin got the puck, but McCormick took it off his stick and fired a shot past Roberto Luongo for the deciding goal with 9:10 left in the game.

Less than 2 minutes later with Vancouver short-handed, Brunette gave Colorado some breathing room with his sixth goal of the season.

Luongo made 29 saves in his first regulation loss since a 2-1 setback at Minnesota on Dec. 2.

The Avalanche got on the board first when Svatos knocked in Jaroslav Hlinka's rebound 3:29 into the second period. Hlinka's rebound came to the charging Svatos, who directed it past Luongo with the heel of his stick while Sami Salo was draped on his back.

The Canucks tied it on a power play 3 minutes later when Taylor Pyatt backhanded Byron Ritchie's rebound over Budaj's left shoulder.

Ryan Kesler nearly gave the Canucks a lead 90 seconds later, but his wraparound shot skidded past the front of the Colorado net.

Vancouver put pressure on the Avalanche at the end of the second period. Alexander Edler hit the right post with a slap shot from the point, and Budaj had to make several saves to keep the game tied heading into the third.

Neither team had many quality chances in the penalty-filled first period. Both teams were whistled for three minors, including two Avalanche penalties that carried over to the second. Luongo stopped 11 shots and Budaj five in a scoreless first.


Avalanche C Joe Sakic missed his 12th straight game because of a groin injury. ... Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said F Ryan Smyth (neck) is progressing and could play Thursday night against Detroit. ... Colorado dressed five players who started the season in the American Hockey League.