MacEwen scores 2, Canucks double up Avalanche 6-3
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Zack MacEwen scored two goals and the Vancouver Canucks beat the Colorado Avalanche 6-3 on Friday night to snap a four-game losing streak and move into contention for a playoff spot in the tight Western Conference.
MacEwen looked comfortable playing on a line with Antoine Roussel and Adam Gaudette. The unit generated three goals and six points.
“It was a really big two points,” said MacEwen, who has four goals and five points in 14 NHL games. “We were clicking well.
“We were creating offense off our forecheck. The chances were there, and we ended up burying them.”
MacEwen, signed by the Canucks as a free agent in March 2017, has been in the lineup due to injuries to Jay Beagle, Josh Leivo and Micheal Ferland. At 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, the 23-year-old has added some size and grit to the Vancouver roster.
“Zack had a great night,” captain Bo Horvat said. “Not only on the score sheet but he was hitting guys, backchecking, moving his feet.”
MacEwen also had four hits and a takeaway.
“I’m trying to do what ever I can do stay in the lineup and help the team when ever possible,” said MacEwen, who had 20 goals and 52 points in 69 games last year with the AHL Utica Comets. “Each game I’m feeling more and more confident.”
J.T. Miller and Antoine Roussel each had a goal and an assist for Vancouver, which managed to hang on to a third-period lead. Troy Stecher added a goal and Tanner Pearson scored into an an empty net for the Canucks, who had squandered third-period leads in their last two losses.
Erik Johnson and Gabriel Landeskog each had a goal and an assist for the Avalanche, who lost in regulation for the first time in 10 games (7-1-2). Valeri Nichushkin added a goal and Nathan MacKinnon had two assists.
The win moves Vancouver into a tie with Winnipeg for the first wild-card spot in the West with 76 points. Colorado remains second in the West with 88 points, two back of St. Louis.
The Avalanche twice trailed by two goals, but kept battling back to keep the game close.
“We did a nice job at times, but not consistently enough,” coach Jared Bednar said. “We played hard ... but I just think it’s a game of mistakes and the ones we made today were pretty big ones and they cost us.”
Vancouver goaltender Thatcher Demko, making his fifth start for the injured Jacob Markstrom, stopped 29 shots. Avalanche goalie Pavel Francouz made 19 saves.
MacEwen put the game away at 16:13 of the third when he took a pass from behind the net from Roussel and beat Francouz.
The Canucks scored twice in the second period and got a big save from Demko to lead 4-3 after 40 minutes.
Vancouver took a 3-1 lead at 2:13 when MacEwen collected a puck as his own blue line, skated the length of the ice and beat Francouz with a low, hard shot.
The Avalanche scored just 1:13 later when Landeskog beat Demko on the stick side. Nichushkin tied the game at 8:04 on a 2-on-1 breakaway. Roussel put Vancouver back in front at 12:17 by deflecting in an Adam Gaudette pass.
Demko had the crowd on its feet cheering when he stopped MacKinnon on a breakaway, then managed to get his heel on Vladislav Kamenev’s shot on the rebound. Kamenev crashed into Demko, but the puck stayed out of the net.
The Canucks led 2-1 after the first period despite being outshot 17-7 and outplayed for long stretches.
Stecher scored just 82 seconds into the game. He took a feed from Miller and blasted a shot from the top of the face-off circle that sailed over Francouz’s glove.
Elias Pettersson showed patience setting up Miller’s goal at 12:29. After picking up a puck chipped along the boards, Pettersson broke into the Colorado zone then waited for defenseman Ian Cole to commit himself before passing to Miller, who had an open net for his 27th of the season.
The Avs scored 48 seconds later when MacKinnon drove to the net, stopped, turned and passed to Johnson, who shot the puck through Demko.
NOTES: There was a video tribute during the first period for Montreal Canadiens’ legend Henri Richard who died Friday. … Defenseman Tyler Myers returned to the Canucks lineup after missing Wednesday’s game due to injury. … Defenseman Alex Edler collected his 300th NHL assist on Vancouver’s first goal. … After taking a 2-0 lead, Vancouver didn’t have a shot on goal for the final 7:31 of the first period.
Avalanche: At San Jose Sharks on Sunday.
Canucks: Host Columbus Blue Jackets Sunday.
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