National Hockey League

Canucks try to continue recent dominance of Avs

(SportsNetwork.com) - Colorado may be ahead of the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference standings, but they are a club that the Avalanche may want to avoid in the playoffs.

The Canucks, though, are no lock to reach the postseason and they will continue their push for a wild card spot on Thursday night versus the Avs.

Vancouver is four points back of Phoenix for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference and has played one more game than the Coyotes, who visit the New Jersey Devils tonight. The Dallas Stars also are one point ahead of the Canucks in the standings and have played two fewer games than Vancouver.

That gives the Canucks an uphill battle in reaching the postseason and the squad has responded with its longest winning streak since late December. That includes last night's 5-2 triumph over the Minnesota Wild.

David Booth scored twice in the win and Eddie Lack made 29 saves as the Canucks have claimed three straight victories for the first time since Dec. 20-29. Another win tonight would give Vancouver its longest string of victories since a season-best seven-game run from Dec. 1-14.

"We're breathing. That's the most important thing and we found a way tonight," said Canucks head coach John Tortorella.

Daniel Sedin, Ryan Kesler and Zack Kassian all added goals for a Vancouver squad that was without captain Henrik Sedin due to a left knee injury suffered in Sunday's win against the Buffalo Sabres. He is day-to-day and did not travel with the club for its quick two-game road trip that ends tonight.

It is unknown if Lack will get another start tonight or if backup Jacob Markstrom will get the call. Neither has ever faced the Avalanche and Markstrom has made just one appearance in relief since coming over in the trade that sent Roberto Luongo to the Florida Panthers.

Whoever gets the call will try to extend the Canucks' recent string of success over the Avalanche. Vancouver picked up a 3-1 victory over Colorado at home on Dec. 8 and has won 11 of 12 as well as 19 of the previous 22 encounters.

The Canucks also have won 10 of their last 13 trips to Colorado, though they did have a four-game series road win streak snapped in the most recent meeting there on April 13 of last season.

The Avs are rolling towards a playoff spot as they own a nine-point edge over the fourth-place Wild in the Central Division and are also a mere three points back of the Chicago Blackhawks for second.

Colorado did bring a three-game winless stretch (0-2-1) into Tuesday night's meeting with the Nashville Predators and escaped with a 5-4 shootout victory on the road despite never leading in regulation.

Gabriel Landeskog scored twice in regulation and had the deciding shootout tally, while Cody McLeod and Nick Holden both scored to erase third-period deficits.

"What I like about our group is we were resilient even if we were not playing our best game," said Colorado head coach Patrick Roy.

Semyon Varlamov made 29 saves as Colorado reached 45 wins in a season for the first time since 2001-02. The Avs won a franchise-best 52 victories the previous season en route to a Stanley Cup title.

Varlamov will start tonight and is seeking his first career win versus the Canucks, having gone 0-7-1 with a 2.80 goals against average in previous meetings.

03/27 11:24:59 ET

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