The Colorado Avalanche were on the wrong end of one of the most thrilling games so far this year last night at the Pepsi Center, falling 6-4 to the division-leading Vancouver Canucks.

The game looked like a lock for the Avs in the first period, after they scored two early goals. Rookie Matt Duchene continued his stellar play, scoring twice and looking generally unstoppable. By the end of the first period, the Avs were up 3-0, and early in the second period made it 4-1 (recap via Mile High Hockey). But the Canucks proved why they’re first place in the Northwest Division. And it was a major game.

A win for the Avs would have given them two points, a tie for first place in the Northwest Division, and a tie for third place in the Western Conference. Instead, the loss puts the Avs four points behind the Canucks for the division lead and in sixth in the Western Conference, with‘s standings showing the Avs just six points ahead of the ninth-place Detroit Red Wings.

The Denver Post calls it the Avs’ “most painful setback” of the season. The way the Canucks are playing, it will be tough for the Avs to catch them, especially if Colorado gives up any more three-goal leads.