Canucks fall to Avalanche in shootout

Marek Svatos scored the shootout winner as the Colorado Avalanche beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 on Wednesday.

Joe Sakic and Marek Svatos scored in the shootout as the Colorado Avalanche eked out a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks at General Motors Place on Wednesday night.

Sakic forced overtime by scoring the tying goal with 15 seconds remaining in regulation, and fooled Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo on a backhand deke in the shootout.

Svatos later beat Luongo between the pads to clinch the comeback win, which pulled Colorado into a tie with Nashville for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Western Conference standings.

The Predators lost 8-4 to the Buffalo Sabres. 

"The two points were huge," Sakic said. "It was just a tight hockey game."

By earning a single point, Vancouver moved to within two points of the front-running Minnesota Wild and Calgary Flames in the Northwest Division.

Colorado is one point back of the Canucks, who enjoy two games in hand.

"I think we deserved better," said Canucks forward Alex Burrows, who made it 2-1 with 1:45 left in the third period.

Burrows dove at the puck, pushing it over the goal-line during a frenzied scramble in front of sprawling Avalanche goaltender Jose Theodore.

Positioned behind the net, referee Brad Watson waved it off, and play continued for several seconds until a whistle permitted a video review, which overturned the call.

"I was able to just poke it one," Burrows said. "I thought it was close to the line, and that is what I told our guys.

"I didn't see it cross the line. The review showed that it was in."

Burrows was credited with his ninth goal, but Sakic lifted his own rebound over Luongo to knot it 3-3 with just 15 seconds to go.

"We had about six chances to get it out," Luongo fumed. "Either we shot it off our own guys, or we didn't get it out, and the next thing you know, a shot from the point and Sakic is alone on the side.

"I was able to get the first save and he chipped it over me for the second one. It was unacceptable, inexcusable.

"That should never happen, especially in an important game like that. We just pissed away two points."

"It was a scramble, that's for sure," said Sakic, who grew up in Burnaby, B.C.

"Unfortunately for us, we gave up that one goal [to Burrows]. We could have easily lost that game, so it was nice to get that goal."

Avalanche welcome Salei

Andrew Brunette had the other goal in support of Theodore, who stopped 29 of 31 shots for the Avalanche (33-26-6).

Defenceman Ruslan Salei, traded Tuesday to Colorado by the Florida Panthers for Karlis Skrastins and a third-rounder, had one assist in his Avalanche debut. 

Defenceman Adam Foote, reacquired Tuesday from the Columbus Blue Jackets for first- and fourth-round conditional draft picks, played a regular shift for the second straight night.

But free-agent forward Peter Forsberg didn't dress for the Avalanche because he had yet to obtain a work visa.

Forsberg, a former Hart Trophy winner as the NHL's most valuable player, agreed Monday to rejoin the Avalanche on a one-year, $5-million US contract pro-rated through season's end.

Rookie Mason Raymond opened the scoring for the Canucks (32-22-9), winners in their previous four games.

Raymond broke a scoreless deadlock 8:31 into the second period, redirecting Ryan Shannon's shot for his seventh goal.

But Brunette replied with one minute remaining in the period, sweeping around Luongo and scoring his 13th on a backhand deke.

Of note, Canucks newcomer Matt Pettinger skated 21 shifts totalling 14 minutes, 47 seconds.

Pettinger was traded to Vancouver at Tuesday's trade deadline for fellow forward Matt Cooke.

With files from the Canadian Press