Maintaining early leads has been a struggle for the Vancouver Canucks, contributing to them squandering important points in the lockout-shortened season.
They haven't had much trouble earning points in recent meetings with the Colorado Avalanche, though.
Vancouver looks to take at least a point in an 18th straight matchup by winning a seventh consecutive home meeting against Colorado and its struggling special teams units Wednesday night.
The Canucks (2-2-2) have held multiple-goal leads in four contests, though three ended up being decided in a shootout. They've dropped two games in the shootout, including 3-2 at Los Angeles on Monday after allowing the tying goal with 43.2 seconds remaining.
Giving up extra points to Western Conference foes may affect Vancouver in the 48-game sprint toward the playoffs.
"It's a short year, and you want to bank as many points as you can," said Robert Luongo, who made 26 saves in losing his second shootout. "We were in control and it's disappointing."
Vancouver started 2011-12 slowly as well, going 2-3-1 before winning the Presidents' Trophy for a second straight season.
"We've got to learn how to close these games. We've been letting teams back," center Henrik Sedin said. "I think in the big picture we'll be a good team (in those situations), so we've got to be strong in those areas in the last few minutes of the game."
The Canucks have been solid in recent years against Colorado, going 15-0-2 in the last 17 matchups.
They are 0 for 10 on the power play in their last two games but should have a good chance to pounce on an opportunity against an Avalanche team that has allowed opponents to go 7 for 12 with the man advantage in back-to-back defeats.
Colorado (2-3-0) allowed four power-play goals in Monday's 4-1 loss to Edmonton and has dropped its first two of a four-game road trip after losing 4-0 to San Jose on Saturday.
"We put ourselves in short-handed situations again," coach Joe Sacco said. "We've allowed seven power-play goals now in two games. That's not good enough. The overall game was not good enough as well. We have to pick it up on our special teams, there is no question. And one goal in two games isn't going to get you many points."
P.A. Parenteau scored his team-best third goal for the Avalanche, who have converted only 1 of 15 chances on the power play.
"We have to figure out (special teams) because I don't think we've played that bad of a game 5-on-5," Parenteau said.
Colorado has had a problem scoring on Vancouver in any situation no matter who the Canucks have in net, registering two goals or fewer in each of the last seven meetings.
Luongo is 10-0-2 with a 2.24 goals-against average in his last 12 starts in the series, though Cory Schneider, despite a 3.13 GAA in four starts this season, may get the nod Wednesday.
Schneider is 4-0-0 with a 0.65 GAA in his last five appearances - four starts - versus Colorado. He hasn't allowed a goal in his last 155-plus minutes facing the Avalanche, including a 43-save, 1-0 victory in the most recent meeting March 28.
It's unclear if Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog will be cleared to play. He sat out Monday after taking a massive hit Saturday from San Jose defenseman Brad Stuart, who received no disciplinary action from the league.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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