Series (Game 3 of 5)

Vancouver leads 3-2

Game 1: Thursday, October 31st
Game 2: Monday, November 4th
Game 3: Wednesday, December 11th
Game 4: Monday, December 23rd
Game 5: Thursday, February 13th

Avalanche 1

(9-8-3, 29 pts)

Canucks 3

(17-8-0, 38 pts)

10:00 PM ET, December 11, 2002

Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

1 2 3 T
COL 0 1 01
VAN 2 1 03

D. Cloutier (Canucks - G): Saves: 26, Save Pct.: .963

J. Sakic (Avalanche - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

D. Langdon (Canucks - LW): Goals: 0, Assists: 0

Canucks' power play too much for Avs

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- The Vancouver Canucks made sure Joe Sakic's celebration didn't last long.

Joe Sakic

Brendan Morrison and Daniel Sedin scored power-play goals and Vancouver overcame Sakic's 500th career goal to beat the Colorado Avalanche 3-1 Wednesday night.

"Right now, I'm glad I got it over with but there's nothing really to be happy about,'' Sakic said of his milestone goal. "It was a great feeling to get it, but it's tough right now when you lose a hockey game and you drop in the standings to a division team.''

Mattias Ohlund also scored and Dan Cloutier made 26 saves for Vancouver, which snapped a two-game losing streak and moved into first place in the Northwest Division. The Canucks, winners of 12 of their last in 15 games, are one point ahead of Minnesota and nine ahead of Colorado.

"We learned a lesson the last couple of games,'' said Morrison, who scored the eventual game winner on a power-play deflection midway through the first period. "We know it's still early in the year and these guys are going to make a charge. They have too much experience over there, to many guys that know what it takes to win, so at some point they'll come on.''

Patrick Roy made several spectacular stops among his 25 saves, but it wasn't enough for the Avalanche, who have one win in the last six games.

"We're not going to catch anybody playing like this,'' said Sakic, who converted a nifty pass from Derek Morris into a power-play goal 4:25 into the second.

Sakic, who grew up in the nearby suburb of Burnaby, received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 18,422. Play was halted momentarily, as teammates came off the bench to congratulate Sakic while he waved to his parents in the stands.

"The ovation was a surprise, but they've got great fans here,'' said Sakic, who became the 31st player to score 500 or more goals. "It's my hometown and I had a lot of people here, so I'm glad I could get it over with for them.''

Sakic joins a list that includes Maurice Richard, Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Marcel Dionne, Guy Lafleur, Frank Mahovlich, Jean Beliveau, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Michel Goulet, Bryan Trottier and Steve Yzerman.

"I guess I'll be on the highlight reels for a while,'' Cloutier said, jokingly. "It's nice to see him do that at home. He's a great player and he's done a lot for the game and it's nice to see him get that goal here at home.''

Vancouver charged to a 2-0 lead midway through the first period.

Ohlund became the last Canucks defenseman to score this season when he circled behind the net and beat Roy between the legs with a wrist shot from close range.

Morrison made it 2-0 at 10:32 when he redirected Ed Jovanovski's shot from the point in the high slot.

After Sakic scored, Daniel Sedin restored the two-goal lead late in the second. Daniel one-timed a cross-crease pass from identical twin, Henrik, as Vancouver finished 2-for-8 on the power play against the Avalanche's 30th-ranked penalty killing unit.

"He made a great pass and I just tried to get it to the net,'' said Daniel Sedin, who has scored four of his five goals in his last seven games. "I'm playing with a lot more confidence now.''

Vancouver killed three penalties in the third period, and Colorado finished 1-for-8 with the man advantage.

"We got off to a slow start and that was the difference,'' Sakic said. "We tried to come back but in the third period Cloutier made some good saves to keep them up two and we just couldn't come back.''

Game notes

The 33-year-old Sakic is just the 13th player to score 500 goals with the same organization. ... Colorado defenseman Adam Foote missed a second straight game with a groin injury. ... Colorado came into the season trying to set a new NHL record with their ninth straight division title, but the Avalanche are now 1-4-4-1 against Northwest Division opponents and two other teams separate them from first-place Vancouver in the standings.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press