Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo looks at the puck after it sailed past him on a shot from Colorado Avalanche Brett McLean during a shootout. (CP PHOTO/Chuck Stoody)
McLean, a 28-year-old Comox, B.C., native, scored twice in regulation then fired the winning goal in a shootout to give the Avalanche a 5-4 comeback victory over the Canucks on Sunday. "Third time lucky," said McLean. "I had an empty net in the third period and another one in overtime, so I was just happy to have a chance to win the game."
Joe Sakic also scored two goals for Colorado, which outshot the Canucks 30-20.
The Avalanche (39-29-7) stayed within five points of the eighth-place Calgary Flames in the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, while Vancouver (45-23-7) was denied an opportunity to clinch a post-season berth. It was Colorado's 10th win in its last 12 games.
The win came after the Avs rallied from a two-goal deficit to tie the Canucks 4-4 in the third period and force the tiebreaker session.
"We played the way we wanted to play," McLean said. "That's kind of how we've been the last couple weeks. We're obviously pretty happy to come out of here with two points.
Taylor Pyatt led Vancouver with two goals while Daniel Sedin and Jeff Cowan also scored before a sellout crowd of 18,630 at General Motors Place, the Canucks' 165th consecutive packed house.
Henrik Sedin recorded three assists, giving him 63 on the season and surpassing Vancouver's single-season record of 62 set by Andre Boudrias in 1974-75.
The Canucks moved into a first-place tie with the Minnesota Wild in the Northwest Division with the point from the overtime loss. That was of little consolation to Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault, who was not impressed with his players' effort.
"I'm hoping they're as disappointed and embarrassed as I am about this performance tonight," Vigneault said.
The Canucks managed only four shots in net over the final 40 minutes.
"I thought we came out real strong in the first, and after that we stopped working," said Vigneault.
McLean reduced Colorado's deficit to 3-2 at 18:03 after he intercepted Vancouver defenceman Rory Fitzpatrick's clearing attempt and quickly fired it past Canuck netminder Roberto Luongo.
Pyatt's second goal of the game sent the Canucks ahead 4-2 at 12:22 of the middle period. But McLean pulled the Avs to within 4-3 as he came out of the penalty box, taking a long lead pass from Ken Klee, and scoring his second of the night on a breakaway at 18:11.
"That was a lucky break and a great pass by Kenny Klee," McLean said.
Sakic tied the game at 4-4 with his second goal of the game at 10:37 of the third. The goal makes Sakic only the fifth player in NHL history to record 90 points in a season at age 37 or older. The others are Gordie Howe, Johnny Bucyk, Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky.
Sakic also tied former teammate Ray Bourque for ninth place on the NHL's all-time points list and grabbed a share of 15th place in career goals with Dino Ciccarelli (608.)
"Obviously, it's an honour to be with those guys," said Sakic. "But there is a lot more important stuff right now u and that's us trying to make the playoffs."
Colorado goaltender Jose Theodore picked up the win in relief of starter Peter Budaj, who was pulled after Cowan gave Vancouver a 3-1 lead at 17:47 of the first period.
"Jose, you can't give him enough credit, coming in there" said Sakic. "He hasn't played a lot lately and he was huge for us obviously - especially in the shootout."
Despite not having played for a month, the much-maligned Theodore looked sharp as he stopped six of seven shots and thwarted Trevor Linden, Brendan Morrison and Daniel Sedin in the sudden-death segment. Theodore's save on the scoring Sedin deprived him of an opportunity to establish a record for shootout goals in a single season. He remained tied for the league record with four.
Notes: - Colorado coach Joel Quenneville coached in his 750th career game. He is only among seven current coaches at that level. Taking his 13 seasons as a defenceman into account, he now has 1,503 NHL games to his credit. He accumulated 803 games during his playing days with Toronto, Colorado, New Jersey, Hartford and Washington . . . Canucks defenceman Willie Mitchell returned to the lineup after missing five games with a groin injury . . . Vancouver defenceman Mattias Ohlund sat out with an elbow injury. It was the first game Ohlund has missed this season. He's expected to be out a few more games as a contusion heals.