Avs show no mercy vs. struggling Canucks

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- Joe Sakic knew the Vancouver
Canucks were struggling. He wanted to make sure it stayed that way.

The Colorado captain scored 32 seconds into the game and again
in the third period as the Avalanche beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-1
Thursday night.

"Obviously they're not very confident right now, and getting a
couple of early goals took advantage of that,'' Sakic said. "We
wanted to get off to a quick start, but I don't think you expect to
get off to a 1-0 lead in the first minute of the game, that's just
a bonus.''

Dan Hinote, Adam Foote and Rob Blake also scored for the
Avalanche, which won for just the second time in six games, but has
points in all but one game this year. Patrick Roy stopped 23 shots.

"Joe's line gave the tone early in the game and then everyone
kept battling,'' Colorado coach Bob Hartley said. "This was
probably our most complete game of the season so far. It's going to
give lots of confidence to some players and hopefully we're going
to start a good streak on this one.''

Rookie defenseman Bryan Allen scored for the Canucks, who only
have one win in the last nine games and seven games on home ice all

"We throw that one in the garbage can,'' Canucks coach Marc
Crawford said. "I can't sugar coat this. It wasn't nice, it wasn't
good. We know our team is better than we showed tonight and we've
got to take responsibility, compliment the other team on how they
played and get back to work.''

Sakic opened the scoring with a perfect wrist shot. After
dropping the puck and crisscrossing with Milan Hejduk just inside
the blueline, Sakic took a return feed at the top of the left
circle and snapped a shot over Dan Cloutier's glove, just inside
the post and under the crossbar.

Sakic added the game's final goal, his seventh of the season,
3:41 into the third.

Hinote made it 2-0 late in the first when he picked up a rebound
in the high slot and slid a slow shot along the ice through the
pads of a screened Cloutier.

The Avalanche, which came in with the league's 29th-ranked power
play after scoring just once in the last 16 chances, were held
without a shot on their first two opportunities. But Foote scored
just one second after the third Avalanche power play, ending
Cloutier's night early.

"It's the beginning of the year. It's early. We've got a good
power play and we got a little lucky with that goal,'' Foote said
of his second goal of the season. "But Blake's was a rocket and I
don't think the goalie had a chance. Every time Blake shoots, good
things happen.''

Colorado finished 1-for-7 on the power play.

Peter Skudra replaced Cloutier 6:11 into the second, but Blake
ended Colorado's slump on the power play with his first goal of the

Allen ended Roy's shutout bid with 3:21 left in the second,
backhanding a low shot from the high slot through a crowd.

The Canucks, who came in with just two goals in their last 38
man-advantage opportunities, had chances to close the gap on the
power play. But they finished 0-for-6 with the extra attacker,
including a 5-on-3 for 1:16 late in the third.

Skudra finished with eight saves in relief.

Game notes
The game was delayed briefly after a fan smashed a pumpkin
on the ice with 1:17 left to play. ... Roy was penalized for
interference after throwing an elbow at Todd Bertuzzi while playing
the puck in the corner during the second period. ... Cloutier, who
had been Vancouver's best player while starting 10 of the first 11
games, gave up three goals on 10 shots. ... Vancouver plays the
next four games on the road, including a rematch with the Avalanche
in Denver next Monday. ... This was the second of five straight
games against Northwest Division opponents for Colorado, which is
trying to win a NHL-record ninth consecutive division title.