Vancouver Canucks left wing Antoine Roussel (26) and right wing Jake Virtanen (18) celebrate Virtanen’s goal against the Colorado Avalanche in the first period of an NHL hockey game in Denver, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

Roussel, Virtanen lead Canucks to 5-1 win over Avalanche

Vancouver moves into final wild-card playoff spot

DENVER — Jake Virtanen and Antoine Roussel each had a goal and an assist as the Vancouver Canucks raced to an early lead and defeated the Colorado Avalanche 5-1 Saturday night.

Brock Boeser, Nikolay Goldobin and Tyler Motte also scored for the Canucks. Jacob Markstrom had 34 saves as Vancouver moved to 4-1-2 in its last seven games.

Matt Calvert scored for Colorado, and Semyon Varlamov stopped 21 shots.

The Canucks moved two points in front of Colorado in the Western Conference standings. The Avalanche have three wins in their last 20 games.

Colorado broke up its top line to start the game in an effort to generate more offence. But the plan didn’t produce. Nathan MacKinnon moved to centre between Alexander Kerfoot and Colin Wilson, and Carl Soderberg was with Gabe Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen.

MacKinnon was back with his old linemates before the first period ended and the Canucks had grabbed a two-goal lead. Varlamov allowed two goals on Vancouver’s first four shots.

The Canucks got the lead when Virtanen scored 1:32 into the first and Boeser got his 17th at 6:04.

Roussel’s sixth goal of the season 7:30 into the second period made it 3-0. Colorado got one back on a tip by Calvert at 11:18. Just 3:59 later, Motte redirected a shot past Varlamov to make it 4-1.

Goldobin scored on the power play at 13:59 of the third to complete the scoring.

RELATED: Canucks Report – February grind will determine playoff positioning

NOTES: Canucks C Markus Granlund was scratched and missed his first game of the season. … Avalanche D Erik Johnson returned to the lineup after sitting out the last two games before the All-Star break with a concussion sustained against Los Angeles on Jan. 21. … Goldobin was in the lineup after being a healthy scratch the previous four games. … Colorado didn’t have a penalty until the third period.

UP NEXT: Vancouver: At Philadelphia on Monday night. Colorado: Hosts Columbus on Tuesday night.

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