Samuel Pahlsson stars in the final edition of King of the Rink for the season with a Swedish twist. He may be new to the team but some of his teammates appear to know him well enough.The teammates know Pahlsson very well.Fellow Swedes, Henrik Sedin and Alex Edler were naturally chosen and just for fun, we threw Finn, Sami Salo too. They were put to the test with some “skill testing” questions.Canucks Jerseys
Semyon Varlamov finished with 21 saves, including a clutch breakaway stop on David Booth to keep it close. But the costly late-season slide continued, leaving the Avalanche in 10th place, two points behind Los Angeles and San Jose for the final playoff spot in the west. With only three games left to play – the Kings and Sharks each have five to play still, as does ninth-place Phoenix, which is still one point ahead of Colorado – Colorado needs help to avoid missing the playoffs.Their record against the Canucks is a big reason why.
The Vancouver Canucks are trying to get ready for the playoffs by tightening up in their own end and playing better defense all over the ice. In doing so, they may have kept Colorado out of the postseason altogether.
Chris Higgins scored the only goal on a shorthanded breakaway late in the first period, and backup goalie Cory Schneider made 43 saves as the Canucks again dealt the Avalanche’s fading playoff hopes a serious — and potentially final — blow with a 1-0 victory at Rogers Arena on Wednesday night.Vancouver Canucks Jerseys
That’s especially true of Higgins, who scored the tying goal and overtime winner in Colorado four days earlier and made it three straight against the Avs with 2:56 left in the first period. It was enough to give Vancouver a second-straight 1-0 victory over an opponent fighting for its playoff life, extending the Canucks’ win streak to four games despite only scoring seven goals in that stretch.
Schneider, starting despite a 38-save shutout by Roberto Luongo on Monday, made his best save 1:36 in, sliding across to his left to glove down Mark Olver’s one-timer of Matt Duchene’s cross-ice pass. He got a break when Paul Stastny fired wide on backdoor attempt early in the second period, and another when Jamie McGinn couldn’t pull a pass out of his skates with an open net, but stuffed Olver again alone in tight after a clean 2-on-1 break with 1:20 left in the period.Higgins was among them after failing to build on the lead.Vancouver Canucks Shop
It almost did a couple of times as the desperate Avalanche fired 16 third-period shots at Schneider, including several scrambles in front. But none found a way behind him, dropping the Avalanche to 0-3-1 in the last four games, and almost certainly out of the Western Conference playoffs for a second straight season.
The Avalanche hasn’t beaten the Vancouver in regulation in almost three full seasons dating back to Oct. 3, 2009. The Canucks are 15-0-2 since then, including a sweep of all six meetings between the division rivals this season, with the Avalanche only picking up two points for overtime and shootout losses.
He was proud of the way their guys played, coach Joe Sacco said. So was Varlamov. He helped Colorado survive a lengthy 5-on-3 midway through the first period, but fell behind while on a man advantage of their own after Matt Hunwick lost the puck at the blue line. Samuel Pahlsson sent Higgins in alone behind the Avalanche defenseman for a shot past the blocker of a retreating Varlamov — Higgins’ first shorthanded goal since Feb. 3, 2009.Schneider also slid to his right to get a blocker on David Jones’ backdoor attempt eight minutes into the third period to preserve his third shutout of the season.Trevor Linden Jersey
He had some help from a Colorado power play that came in ranked first in the NHL on the road, but finished 0-for-5. In addition to surrendering the shorthanded goal, the Avalanche man advantage gave up another great 2-on-1 chance that was fired wide, and only got one shot on a chance with six minutes left.
So were the Canucks, who moved two points behind St. Louis atop the Western Conference despite missing top-four defenseman Kevin Bieksa, who took a maintenance day, and top-goal scorer Daniel Sedin, who missed a fourth game with a concussion. Schneider deserved a lot of the credit.