Mikael Samuelsson's hat-trick inspired a stirring fightback for the Vancouver Canucks in a 6-4 victory over their Northwest Division rivals, the Colorado Avalanche, on Tuesday. The Canucks trailed 3-0 in the second period before the winger tallied three times in 12 minutes to pull the visitors to within 4-3 by the start of the final period after Peter Mueller had added a fourth goal for the Avalanche.
Alexandre Burrows scored with a wrist shot at 8:04 in the third to tie the game before Jannik Hansen struck with 2:08 remaining and Daniel Sedin capped the scoring as Vancouver closed the contest with their sixth goal. A relieved Samuelsson said: "We wished we didn't have to come back in any game. It takes too much energy out of you. "But this shows we can play for 60 minutes." The Canucks (41-23-2) extended their division lead to four points with a fourth consecutive triumph over Colorado (37-23-6).
The Avalanche eased to a three-goal lead in the first period with two scores from Matt Duchene and another by Chris Stewart, but Colorado struggled to contain their opponents late on and have lost three of five since returning from the Olympic break. John-Michael Liles, the Colorado defenceman, felt the Avalanche were punished for every mistake they made. "Too many turnovers," he said. "We'd make a mistake and the puck was behind us and in the net. We stopped taking the play to them and they took it us."
Elsewhere, Simon Gagne's power-play goal broke a third-period deadlock as the Philadelphia Flyers rallied for a 3-2 win, their franchise-record 15th consecutive victory over the New York Islanders. Gagne's goal finished completed the Flyers' comeback from a 2-0 deficit. Jeff Carter and Claude Giroux also scored for the Flyers. Philadelphia have outscored New York 51-25 during the run.
John Tavares and Kyle Okposo were the goal-scorers for the Islanders. Despite the success in the game the Flyers' Mike Richards said he and his teammates needed to improve. "We didn't play great, which is disappointing, but we found a way to win," he said. "We'll take the two points, but we have to get better." Nikolai Kulemin scored 4:11 into overtime to lift the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 4-3 triumph over the Boston Bruins. Kulemin made the most of a broken two-on-one rush with Mikhail Grabovski, beating the Bruins goalie, Tim Thomas.
Grabovski was playing for the first time after missing 23 games because of a broken wrist. The Leafs forced overtime when Luca Caputi scored the tying goal by swatting home a rebound 7:13 into the third period. Wayne Primeau and Carl Gunnarsson also scored for Toronto. Jonas Gustavsson stopped 26 shots. @Email:email@example.com