ColoradoAvalanche.com web staff contributed to this report.
CANUCKS (34-30-10) at AVALANCHE (45-21-6)
TV: Altitude, Sportsnet Pacific
Last 10: Vancouver 6-4-0; Colorado 5-4-1
Season series: The Canucks make their only trip of the season to Denver for the second of three games against the Avalanche. Vancouver won 3-1 at Rogers Arena in early December and will host the Avalanche again on April 10.
Big story: Colorado is home for back-to-back games (Saturday vs. San Jose) after earning a come-from-behind 5-4 shootout win against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night. The Avalanche is nearing a Stanley Cup Playoffs berth, needing just one more win the rest of the way paired with one more Phoenix loss.
The Canucks are making a late push for a playoffs spot and head to Pepsi Center looking for their second win in as many nights after defeating the Minnesota Wild 5-2 on Wednesday night for its third straight win.
Canucks: All of a sudden, the puck has started going in for the Canucks, and, not surprisingly, they're starting to put some wins on the board. Vancouver has scored 26 non-shootout goals in its past eight games, including nine in back-to-back wins against the Buffalo Sabres and the Wild, which moved the Canucks within four points of the Coyotes for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
"The guys feel better about themselves--they're just going out and playing hockey," first-line left wing Daniel Sedin said after scoring his first goal of 2014 Wednesday night.
A five-game homestand awaits the Canucks, following Thursday's game, and in all they play six of their final seven games in Vancouver.
Avalanche: Colorado came close Tuesday night to losing four in a row for just the second time this season. The Avs trailed 2-0 late in the first period and 4-3 late in the third but rallied each time before winning the shootout to end a three-game slide.
"[Tuesday] was a good example of leadership," Colorado coach Patrick Roy said. "We barely touched the puck in the first period. The shots were something like 13-1, and the scoring chances were even worse. But [Paul Stastny and Gabriel Landeskog], at the end of the first made a big play -- Paul made a nice pass to Landy for the shot and it was 2-1. We were back in the game. That gave life to our team. In the second period they scored another nice one to tie it. These guys work really well together."
Goaltender Semyon Varlamov is expected to start against Vancouver and against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday afternoon. He won his 35th game of the season Tuesday in Nashville, tying him with Roy (2002-03) for the fourth-most single-season wins in Avalanche history.
"We would not be where we are without him," Roy said Monday.
Injury report: The Canucks are without center Henrik Sedin (leg), who didn't make the trip. Forward Mike Santorelli (season-ending shoulder surgery) and defenseman Andrew Alberts (concussion) are out. … Avalanche center John Mitchell (back) might be ready to return against Vancouver, though Roy said it's more likely he won't be back until Saturday. Forwards PA Parenteau (knee) and Alex Tanguay (season-ending knee surgery) are out.
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