Canucks blank NHL West-leading Avalanche
Raycroft rebounds from poor outing
Vancouver may have devised a new strategy for 28 NHL teams when facing hard-to-beat Colorado Avalanche goalie Craig Anderson: Drive the net and get a bit lucky.
The hometown Canucks scored on a pair of juicy rebounds and a deflection against the league's hottest netminder, rebounding from Friday's one-sided loss to Anaheim with a 3-0 victory on Sunday night.
It was the second loss in a row for Anderson, who matched an NHL record for wins in October with 10 while posting a 2.04 goals-against average and .939 save percentage.
"He's a big reason for their success," said Mason Raymond, who opened the scoring on Vancouver's third shot by shovelling home the rebound of an Alex Edler shot.
"We wanted to get to him and get those second and third opportunities and whack them home."
Anderson's Vancouver counterpart, one-time Avalanche Andrew Raycroft, stopped 18 shots for his first shutout as a Canuck in his third start for the injured Roberto Luongo.
On Oct. 3, Anderson stopped 35 shots in a 3-0 win over Vancouver for his first shutout as an Av after signing with Colorado as a free agent in the summer.
But the former Florida Panther wasn't near as sharp in Sunday's rematch at General Motors Place.
Poor rebound control
With Colorado trailing 1-0 early in the second period, Anderson couldn't handle a Sami Salo shot that trickled through the crease and settled in front of the post. An uncovered Ryan Kesler banged the puck home for his fifth goal of the season.
"When the [defence] had the puck we tried to get in front of [Anderson] and make his job hard tonight," said Kesler, who matched linemate Raymond with his fifth goal of the season. "He's human back there and we got to him early and often.
"I thought we played well tonight, especially in the physical department. I thought we outmuscled them all over the ice and dominated them."
Tanner Glass rounded out the scoring at 9:25 of the third period. The Regina-born left-winger drove the net and watched his shot deflect off the left skate of Colorado defenceman Scott Hannan and past Anderson.
It was Glass's first goal as a Canuck, first in 33 contests and capped a strong game by the 25-year-old and his linemates Rick Rypien and Kyle Wellwood, who returned to the lineup following a four-game absence with a broken toe.
They weren't credited with a point on the second Vancouver goal but contributed in a large way by applying pressure in the Avalanche zone for about 90 seconds before Salo gained control of the puck at the Colorado blue-line.
Down 1-0, the Avalanche enjoyed a two-man advantage for 33 seconds in the opening period but couldn't beat Raycroft, who redeemed himself after being chased in the second period in Anaheim after giving up four goals on 22 shots.
"I felt good the other night. I just kind of lost focus on a couple but tonight I stayed focused all night," said Raycroft.
"That was a big win for us. We didn't play our best the other night. Three [games] in four [nights], travel and everything else."
Post time for Avalanche
Colorado, which leads the NHL Western Conference with a 10-3-2 record, had a chance to cut into a 3-0 lead midway through the third but Philippe Dupuis and Ryan O'Reilly rang shots off the post 19 seconds apart.
"The strong part of our game right now is, obviously, our defence group," said Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault, whose injury-riddled club lost rookie Michael Grabner to an ankle injury in the pre-game warm-up.
"Andrew has proven that he can play in this league at a high level, and our guys have to play within our system right now."
Raycroft earned his seventh career shutout and first since Nov. 9, 2007, when he blanked the Buffalo Sabres as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Vancouver, which improved to 8-7-0 and climbed to seventh spot in the West, hosts the New York Rangers on Tuesday at 7 p.m. PT before embarking on a five-game road trip.