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GAME: Colorado Avalanche (16-7-3-1) at Vancouver Canucks (15-7-4-2).TIME: Thursday, 10 p.m. EST.
The retirement of Patrick Roy -- arguably the NHL's greatest goaltender -- and injuries to two of the game's biggest stars hasn't been enough to slow down the Colorado Avalanche.
Colorado looks to extend a season-high six-game unbeaten streak when it visits the Vancouver Canucks in a battle for first place in the Northwest Division.
Despite an abundance of offensive stars, Roy's retirement figured to damage Colorado's chance of remaining one of the league's elite teams. David Aebischer, however, has answered his critics by playing very well in the first two months of the season, and is one of the main reasons why Colorado is challenging for the NHL's best record.
Making the Avalanche's early season success even more impressive is they have done it without much help from reigning league MVP Peter Forsberg and star left wing Paul Kariya. An abdominal injury has limited Forsberg to 11 games while Kariya has played just seven games after spraining his right wrist.
"We've got enough depth to where we expect to win every night out," Colorado coach Tony Granato said. "This has given a lot of guys who might not have played as much a lot of confidence, and guys are playing for each other."
Captain Joe Sakic had three assists Tuesday in a 4-1 victory over visiting Washington, as Colorado improved to 4-0-2 in its last six games.
Sakic and linemate Alex Tanguay, among the league leaders in points, have both been instrumental in Colorado's success. Sakic has eight goals and 17 assists in the last 18 games while Tanguay leads the NHL with 26 assists.
Vancouver captain Markus Naslund scored his fourth goal of the game 24 seconds into overtime Tuesday, lifting the Canucks to a 4-3 victory over Pittsburgh.
"It's definitely good for your confidence, that's for sure, and just shows it's important to shoot the puck," said Naslund, who returned after missing one game with a groin injury. "But more than that it was good we came up with a win even though we didn't play a good game."
The Canucks are 1-1-1 on a five-game homestand that concludes Sunday against Carolina.