VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- If this is how Peter Forsberg
plays while recuperating, imagine how good he'll be when he's fully
Playing his fourth game since missing 19 with a groin injury,
Forsberg set up the first three Colorado goals, including Milan
Hejduk's go-ahead score with 7:44 left, in the Avalanche's 4-2
victory Friday night over the Vancouver Canucks.
"I don't think it was a great game for me," Forsberg said. "I
think I can do better but at least it's a step in the right
direction. There's still a ways to go but I'm feeling better at
Forsberg, last season's NHL MVP, had just one point in his
previous three games.
"I knew it was going to take some time," he said. "As long as
I can get in shape, I'm going to get better and better."
Joe Sakic scored on a two-on-one break 3½ minutes after Hejduk's
goal to help the Avalanche move within four points of Vancouver for
the top spot in the Northwest Division.
The Avalanche trailed the Canucks by 13 points at this time last
year before passing them on the final day of the regular season to
win their ninth straight division title.
"This year, we have to make sure we have to start a little
earlier," said Tanguay, who added two assists. "We put ourselves
behind the 8-ball last year and we were a little bit late getting
going. Maybe it cost us in the playoffs because we were a little
"We were in the box too much," Naslund said after the
Avalanche converted two of six power play chances. "You know when
they get five-on-three they're probably going to score."
Hejduk's winner came with the Canucks were playing short-handed
after goalie Dan Cloutier took a delay of game penalty for knocking
the net off its mooring. Hejduk cruised into the slot, took
Forsberg's pass from behind the net, and whistled a shot over
Cloutier tipped his hat to Hejduk's shot, but was less
accommodating toward the call.
"I'll just get in trouble if I say what I want to say,"
Cloutier said after making 29 saves, who said that was the first
such call against him. "Never, especially in a tight game like
that. There was good flow to the game, and next thing you know ...
I'm not going to say any more."
Naslund opened the scoring on the power play with 31.8 seconds
left in the first, but Colorado tied it 1:55 into the second period
on a two-man advantage after the Canucks, already playing down a
man, were whistled for too many men on the ice.
It only took Colorado's fourth-ranked power play 35 seconds to
capitalize as Blake cruised into the high slot and one-timed
Forsberg's pass from behind the net past Cloutier.
"We'll take his OK if that's how he's going to be," Blake said
of Forsberg. "You can see he's getting it back. He does so many
things out there."
Tanguay was credited with the go-ahead goal at 8:31 after
Forsberg walked out from behind the net untouched and slipped a
backhand through a screen in front. The shot bounced off a couple
of legs and trickled over the goal line.
"It went off somebody, I don't know if it was me or not,"
It could have been a lot worse as the Avalanche outshot
Vancouver 19-5 in the second. Cloutier made a blocker save off
Karlis Skrastins on a breakaway midway through the period and
stuffed Sakic on a breakaway with seconds left.
"They're so talented and we gave them too many chances,"
May tied it 2:10 into the third period after Jiri Slegr's point
shot bounced off May and Skrastins as May drove hard to the net.
May, who failed to score in his first 34 games with the Canucks,
tapped the puck in after it landed near the goal line.
May, a healthy scratch Monday for Vancouver's 3-2 win at
Colorado, has two goals and an assist in his last three games.
The Canucks were 1-for-7 on the power play. ... Vancouver
RW Jason King, the NHL rookie of the month in November, was a
healthy scratch for the second straight game after failing to
register a point in December. ... Sakic played with a full face
shield after taking a puck off the chin during Colorado's victory
over Calgary on Wednesday.