<
>

Hinote's first goal of season helps lift Avs over Canucks

DENVER (AP) -- Before Avalanche archenemy Todd Bertuzzi heard his
first jeer, or even stepped onto the ice for that matter, Vancouver
had fallen behind. It kept getting worse for the Canucks on yet
another disappointing trip to Colorado.

Milan Hejduk scored 11 seconds into the game and the Avalanche
scored three more times in the first period en route to a 6-2
victory Sunday night over Bertuzzi and the Canucks.

Vancouver fell to 0-3 in Denver this season by a combined score
of 16-7. On this trip, the Canucks never gave themselves a chance.

"No explanation for the start. Not at all. I don't have an
answer," said Bertuzzi, after enduring yet another night full of
boos at the Pepsi Center. "This is an embarrassing loss."

After the opening faceoff, Hejduk streaked toward the Vancouver
goal and took a nice feed from Alex Tanguay to beat Alex Auld for
the second-fastest goal in franchise history.

Andrew Brunette scored at 4:02 to make it 2-0, and the Avs got
two more goals before the first intermission, including one that
bounced in off Vancouver defenseman Mattias Ohlund after Auld
deflected Joe Sakic's shot into the air.

"We got a couple of breaks on a couple of goals," Sakic said.
"None luckier than mine, obviously."

Sakic's odd goal -- his first of two on the night -- compelled
Canucks coach Marc Crawford to burn the team's timeout 8½ minutes
in, although the break didn't do much to sharpen things up for
Vancouver.

Late in the first, after killing off a 5-on-3 power play,
Canucks center Brendan Morrison lumbered from the penalty box to
the bench to make way for Anson Carter. The whole thing went
slowly, and by the time Carter reached the ice, Marek Svatos was
skating in unhindered. Carter hooked Svatos, but couldn't prevent
the goal and wound up replacing Morrison in the penalty box, to
boot.

"We concentrated an awful lot on our start tonight. We talked
about what we wanted to do and still got off to a horrendous
start," Crawford said. "We're trying to make something happen and
instead we gave a great chance right off the hop to one of the
better shooters in the league."

The Canucks pulled within 4-2 midway through the third, but
Antti Laaksonen ended any thoughts of a comeback when he picked off
Auld's long pass from the crease and fed to Dan Hinote. Hinote
scored short-handed for his first goal of a season in which he has
missed about half the games with injuries.

Every time he touched the puck, Bertuzzi was booed by Avalanche
fans still bitter about the cheap shot the Canucks forward put on
Colorado forward Steve Moore that broke Moore's neck in a 2004 game
in Vancouver. Moore has not returned to hockey since the hit.

But this was nothing like last month, when Bertuzzi made his
first appearance in Denver since the incident and was booed
mercilessly and mocked by fans wearing jail stripes and neck
braces.

Maybe most notably, it was the third time in three games in
Denver this season that Bertuzzi has been little factor. He had an
assist Sunday to make it a grand total of no goals and two assists
over the three games. It has hardly been a representative effort
from the team's second-leading scorer -- or any of the Northwest
Division leaders.

"There is no explanation," Crawford said of the struggles
against the Avs.

Morrison and Bryan Allen scored for Vancouver, although the
Canucks never really got to goalie David Aebischer.

Aebischer, in jeopardy of losing his starting job a week ago,
made 38 saves. It was his second straight solid outing, this coming
after a 35-save game in a 5-0 win over Columbus on Friday.

"Anytime you're not playing, you're not happy," Aebischer
said. "But you know you're going to get to play again at some
point. I kept on working at it and I came out and I think I've
played pretty well the last two games."

Auld, who has been starting for Vancouver since Dan Cloutier
hurt his knee last week, made 30 saves and lost his second
straight, a night after a 2-1 setback in Phoenix.

Game notes
Hejduk was involved in a minor car accident on his way to
the Pepsi Center. Nobody was injured. ... Colorado's record for
fastest goal to start a game is 9 seconds, done March 24, 2001,
against Boston. ... The Avs called up C Brad Richardson to replace
Steve Konowalchuk, who had wrist surgery that will end his season.