- The Washington Times - Monday, April 6, 2009

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA (AP) - T.J Galiardi scored twice, Peter Budaj made 20 saves, and the Colorado Avalanche snapped an eight-game losing streak with a surprising 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night.

Milan Hejduk had a goal and two assists, and Ben Guite also scored to help Colorado snap an 0-7-1 skid and put a dent in the Canucks’ playoff positioning.

Pavol Demitra snapped Budaj’s shutout bid with 4:38 left, but by then it was too late. Coming off a 5-3 loss in Edmonton on Saturday night and playing at home for just the second time in the last nine games, the Canucks couldn’t take advantage of an injury-riddled Avalanche team in last place in the Western Conference.

Vancouver only managed five shots in the first period _ none before Guite made it 2-0 7:44 into the second _ losing three straight games for the first time since an eight-game losing skid at the end of January. The Canucks followed that by going 20-5-1 in February and March, but are 0-2-1 in April.

Galiardi opened the scoring on a delayed penalty 7:32 into the first, one-timing a hard shot form the slot over Roberto Luongo’s glove after Canucks defensemen Shane O’Brien and Kevin Bieksa collided along the side boards.

Galiardi made it 4-0 with 7:56 left, beating Luongo from a sharp angle for his third NHL goal _ all coming against the Canucks _ in his seventh career game.

Vancouver remained tied with Calgary atop the Northwest Division, and fell three points behind fourth-place Chicago in the race for home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Flames, who have played one fewer game, host Los Angeles on Monday before traveling to Vancouver for a showdown Tuesday.

The game started with an emotional tribute and moment of silence for the fiancee of Canucks forward Taylor Pyatt, Carly Bragnalo, who was killed in a car crash Friday while vacationing with family in Jamaica. Pyatt missed his second game and has been given an indefinite leave of absence by the team.

Several Vancouver players have pledged to win for the missing teammate, but gave a sellout crowd of 18,630 little reason to get loud after the moment of silence.

They Canucks were outshot 26-21 by an Avalanche team in the midst of the longest winless streak (0-7-1) since the franchise moved to Colorado in 1995. The Avalanche did get forward Wojtek Wolski back after missing three games to illness, and he set up Guite’s goal. But Colorado was still missing 10 regulars to injury, including four defensemen and four top-six forwards.

Guite doubled the lead with a quick shot from inside the left faceoff circle that went between the legs of both defenseman Willie Mitchell and Luongo.

The Canucks finally got on the shot clock thanks to two straight power plays shortly after Guite’s goal, but couldn’t beat Budaj. Steve Bernier had the best of the few early chances, but fired wide on a jam play in the first period and hit Budaj right on the chest with a point-blank one-timer late in the second.

Budaj stopped Bernier again on a close-range backhander 2 minutes into the third period, and got a break when Daniel Sedin hit the crossbar a minute later.

Hejduk made it 3-0 5 minutes into the third after a bad giveaway by Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler in front of Luongo, who finished with 22 saves.

Notes:@ Avalanche D Aaron MacKenzie became the 10th Colorado player to make his NHL debut this season, the most in a single season in Avalanche history. … It was the Canucks’ first regulation loss at home since Jan. 28, an 11-0-2 streak that included a franchise-record 11-straight wins at GM Place. … Canucks C Henrik Sedin had a seven-game point streak snapped at five goals and nine assists. … Colorado captain Joe Sakic took the morning skate, but isn’t sure he’ll play again after missing all but 15 games because of back and hand injuries.

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