Vancouver goaltender Jacob Markstrom saved his best stuff for last, shutting down Colorado with the game in the balance.
His secret: “Stop the puck, really simple,” he quipped.
Markstrom had 32 saves and made three consecutive stops in a shootout, helping the Canucks edge the Avalanche 3-2 on Saturday night.
Markstrom stymied an aggressive attack by the Avalanche in overtime, and then stopped Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Matt Duchene in the tiebreaker. Markus Granlund converted his shootout opportunity for the Canucks.
“We needed Marky in overtime,” Vancouver coach Willie Desjardins said. “I thought we contained them OK during the game, but overtime they had some chances and Markstrom came up big.”
Loui Eriksson and Alexandre Burrows scored for Vancouver, which went 2-1-0 on a three-game trip. The Canucks also improved to 4-1-1 in their last six games against the Avalanche.
“It was a great trip,” Burrows said. “Even though we didn’t get the result in Dallas (on Friday), we still played well. And four out of six points on the road, with travel, you take that every time.”
Calvin Pickard, starting in place of injured goalie Semyon Varlamov, stopped 29 shots for Colorado. He is 4-1-1 in six starts this season.
Mikhail Grigorenko and Jarome Iginla scored for the Avs, who have lost the first two games of their five-game homestand.
“I liked our effort tonight, we were skating and working,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “It gets to a shootout and it’s a coin toss for me at that point. We need to score a goal if we’re going to win it in a shootout.”
Burrows put the Canucks ahead 2-1 just 1:26 into the third, but 39-year-old Iginla responded with his third of the season at 3:56.
Colorado then came out strong in overtime and just missed on several opportunities. Vancouver had a power play in the final 20 seconds but also came up short.
“It’s tough to lose in a shootout, but they want to win as much as we do, and their goalie was playing really well,” Pickard said. “He made some big stops in overtime and in the shootout.”
Early on, the Canucks looked like the more energized team despite playing the second of a back-to-back. They made the most of an early power play, jumping in front when Eriksson took a pass from Granlund and beat Pickard on the short side.
The Vancouver winger went scoreless in the first 13 games of the year but now has five goals in his last nine appearances.
Pickard kept the Avalanche in the game with a handful of dazzling saves, including one where he was forced to stretch his leg out to rob Bo Horvat late in the first.
Grigorenko tied it midway through the second period. After chances by Carl Soderberg and Duchene in front of the net, Grigorenko flicked a shot off Markstrom’s back and then poked in the rebound for his second goal of the season.