Zack MacEwen leads Canucks past Avalanche with a pair of goals

Chris Tanev credited the Avalanche with a tough game but was happy to the Canucks got the win to snap a losing skid.

VANCOUVER — Zack MacEwen is making his case he belongs in the NHL.

MacEwen, who has bounced back and forth between the NHL and AHL this season, scored his second goal of the night late in the third period as the Vancouver Canucks defeated the Colorado Avalanche 6-3 Friday night.

The win snapped a four-game losing skid and vaulted Vancouver back into the playoff picture in the tight Western Conference.

MacEwen looked comfortable playing on a line with Antoine Roussel and Adam Gaudette. The unit generated three goals and six points.

"It was a really big two points," said MacEwen, who now has four goals and five points in 14 NHL games. "We were clicking well.

"We were creating offence off our forecheck. The chances were there, and we ended up burying them."

MacEwen, a Charlottetown native who the Canucks signed as a free agent in March 2017, was has been in the lineup due to injuries to Jay Beagle, Josh Leivo and Micheal Ferland. At six-foot-three and 205 pounds, the 23-year-old has added some size and grit to the Vancouver roster.

"Zack had a great night," said captain Bo Horvat. "Not only on the scoresheet but he was hitting guys, backchecking, moving his feet."

MacEwen also had four hits and a takeaway.

"I’m trying to do what ever I can do stay in the lineup and help the team when ever possible," said MacEwen, who had 20 goals and 52 points in 69 games last year with the AHL Utica Comets. "Each game I’m feeling more and more confident."

J.T. Miller and Roussel had a goal and an assist each for Vancouver (35-26-6). Troy Stecher and Tanner Pearson, into an empty net, also scored for the Canucks.

Erik Johnson and Gabriel Landeskog each had a goal and an assist for the Avalanche (40-17-8), who lost in regulation for the first time in 10 games (7-1-2). Valeri Nichushkin added a goal while Nathan MacKinnon had two assists.

The win moves Vancouver into a tie with Winnipeg for the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference with 76 points. Colorado remains second in the West with 88 points, two back of the St. Louis Blues

The Avalanche twice trailed by two goals but kept battling back to keep the game close.

"We did a nice job at times but not consistently enough," said head coach Jared Bednar. "We played hard … but I just think it’s a game of mistakes and the ones we made today were pretty big ones and they cost us."

Vancouver managed to hold onto a third-period lead after blowing two of them in their last two losses.

Defenceman Chris Tanev helped preserve the win with a big shot block in the final period when the Canucks were only ahead one goal.

"We’re trying to make the playoffs," said Tanev. "I think anyone on the team is going to do that. That’s what we need to win.

"We haven’t got the results we wanted. We talked about we need to do the little things, take a hit, block a shot. We’re pretty much playing playoff hockey the rest of the year."

Vancouver goaltender Thatcher Demko, making his fifth start for the injured Jacob Markstrom, stopped 29 shots. Avalanche goalie Pavel Francouz made 19 saves.

MacEwen salted the game away at 16:13 of the third when he took a pass from behind the net from Roussel and beat Francouz.

"Mack made some really good plays," said Roussel. "His size made him an asset and a huge player tonight."

The loss cost the Avalanche a chance to move into a tie with the Blues, who fell 4-2 to New Jersey earlier in the evening.

The Avs continue their road trip with games in San Jose and Los Angels Sunday and Monday.

"It was a big game for the standings and unfortunately we couldn’t get the job done," said defenceman Kevin Connauton. "We’ve got back-to-backs coming up, so we’ll try and get wins in both of those."

NOTES: There was a video tribute during the first period for Montreal Canadiens’ legend Henri Richard who died Friday. … Defenceman Tyler Myers returned to the Canucks lineup after missing Wednesday’s game due to injury. … Defenceman Alex Edler collected his 300th NHL assist on Vancouver’s first goal. … After taking a 2-0 lead Vancouver didn’t have a shot on goal for the final 7:31 of the first period. … Colorado’s Pierre-Edouard Bellemare celebrated his 35th Friday.


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