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Morrison gives Canucks a leg up on Avs

2/14/2003

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- Brendan Morrison put the
Vancouver Canucks ahead in the game, the series, and maybe even the
entire season.

Morrison scored 1:58 into overtime as the Canucks rallied from a
late deficit to beat the Colorado Avalanche 2-1 Thursday night.

The win extended Vancouver unbeaten streak to eight games, but
more importantly it moved the Canucks seven points ahead of
Colorado in the Northwest Division. It also gave the Canucks a 3-2
edge in the season series, their first-ever seasonal win over the
Avalanche.

``That's such a big step for our club mentally,'' said Morrison.
``Each year they're one of the top teams in the league and right
now they're on top of their game, probably the best team in the
league right now. We had to prove to ourselves that we could do
it.''

Milan Hejduk scored late in the second period and Patrick Roy
made 24 saves as the Avalanche had their winning streak snapped at
six games and their unbeaten streak ended at 10.

Colorado moved into a tie with Minnesota for second in the
Northwest, but even with one less game played than Vancouver, it
will be tough to make up the gap.

``I think there's still a chance,'' Hejduk said of Colorado's
bid to win a league-record ninth consecutive division title. ``But
it's going to be real difficult if they keep playing like they are
playing right now.''

Morrison dropped the puck to Trevor Linden at the blue line,
then drove to the net behind Adam Foote and redirected a long
backdoor pass from Brent Sopel past Roy.

``I just went to the net and it was a tap-in,'' Morrison said.
``He (Foote) tried to come hit me and missed me, and I got away
from him and Sopel made a great play. It was a beautiful pass.''

Sopel also set up the tying goal with a power-play point shot
that Todd Bertuzzi deflected up and over Roy with 3:31 left in the
third period. The goal, Bertuzzi's 30th, also extended his point
streak to 12 games.

``It was a hard-fought game,'' said Bertuzzi, who has six goals
and eight assists during his run and is one game short of matching
Hejduk and Ottawa's Marian Hossa for the longest streak of the
season.

``I can't take that penalty at the end,'' said Derek Morris, who
was in the box for hauling down Markus Naslund. ``We can make
excuses all night, but basically they won the game on one penalty
by me.''

After a scoreless first period that featured plenty of big saves
from Roy, Hejduk finally opened the scoring with 43.2 seconds left
in the second.

Canucks defenseman Ed Jovanovski got tangled up with Alex
Tanguay in the right circle, emerging without his stick, missing a
glove and helpless to stop Hejduk cutting to the net. The Colorado
winger moved in alone on Dan Cloutier and backhanded a low shot on
the stick side for his 30th goal.

It was Hejduk s 19th goal in 26 career games and third this
season against Vancouver. As has been the case often lately, it was
set up by linemates Tanguay and Peter Forsberg. The trio has
combined for 17 goals and 44 points since being united 10 games
ago.

``They were pretty tight, hands in our face and stuff like that,
but I think we overcame that and came back,'' Hejduk said after
being held without a shot through most of the first two periods.

But Hejduk's first shot was enough to give the Avs the first
goal for the 11th straight game. For a while it looked like it
might be enough for Roy. He stopped redirections by Bertuzzi and
Markus Naslund, then dived across to get his stick between Bertuzzi
and an empty net.

``Our first period was a little suspect,'' said Hejduk. ``But we
survived, Patrick kept us in the game and in the second we came
back.''

Roy, who also got a little help when Morrison hit the crossbar,
required the trainer's attention after jamming his leg making
another tough save with 34 seconds left in the first period. He
continued to play.

``It was as tight of a game as we've played and as high-paced as
all year,'' said Naslund. ``It's big for our confidence to come up
winning. ``

Cloutier finished with 21 saves.

Game notes
Colorado D Chris McAllister left in the first period
with a shoulder injury and didn t return. ... Vancouver now heads
on a four-game trip that includes visits to Calgary and Edmonton,
the final two intradivision game of the season for the Canucks. ...
Colorado is 15-1-2-1 this year without captain Joe Sakic, who was
out during the entire unbeaten stretch with a broken foot.

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