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GAME: Colorado Avalanche (9-6-2) at Phoenix Coyotes (9-9-2).
TIME: Wednesday, 9 p.m. EST.
Following a slow start, the Phoenix Coyotes have an opportunity to move above .500 for the second time this season when they host the Colorado Avalanche.
Since winning only three of their first 10 games, the Coyotes have gone 6-3-1 to reach the break-even mark for the second time. A 4-2 victory over Minnesota on Nov. 8 put them at .500 for the first time, but they lost their next game 4-3 to Calgary.
"No one thought after 20 games we'd be .500," Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said. "My goal is to be in first place. I don't think of anything else."
Zbynek Michalek scored with 1:51 left in overtime, lifting Phoenix to a 2-1 victory over visiting Anaheim on Saturday.
"It doesn't matter who scores the game-winner," Michalek said. "It was a tough game to play, and it was a big one for us being a divisional game."
Ladislav Nagy also scored for the Coyotes, who have gained at least a point in five of six games this month (4-1-1).
Part of the reason for Phoenix's recent success can be attributed to the play of goaltender Curtis Joseph, who made a season-high 43 saves on Saturday. He has won four of his last five starts, allowing only eight goals in those games.
Colorado has dropped two straight after winning six of seven and plays its next three games on the road.
A better start would certainly help the Avalanche, who have trailed after the first period by a combined 6-1 score the past two games.
"I don't really have an explanation for that," Colorado forward Milan Hejduk said.
Ian Laperriere's goal midway through the second period Monday lifted the Avs into a 2-2 tie with Edmonton, but the Oilers scored the next three goals en route to a 5-2 victory.
Left wing Alex Tanguay had an assist in the loss, giving him at least one point in 15 of 17 games this season. He has four goals and two assists during a four-game points streak.
Center Pierre Turgeon, tied for fourth on the team with 14 points, missed Monday's game with a sore hip and is listed as day-to-day.
STANDINGS (through Nov. 15): Avalanche - 20 points, 4th place, 4 PB, Northwest Division. Coyotes - 20 points, 3rd place, 5 PB, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Avalanche - Tanguay, Marek Svatos and Antti Laaksonen, 7 goals; Tanguay, 12 assists and 19 points; Laperriere, 36 PIM. Coyotes - Mike Leclerc, 8 goals; Paul Mara, 11 assists; Leclerc and Nagy, 15 points; Keith Ballard and Tyson Nash, 40 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 15): Avalanche - Power play: 20.6 percent (24 for 116), 6th in NHL. Penalty killing: 85.9 percent (92 for 107), 5th. Coyotes - Power play: 18.7 percent (24 for 128), 13th. Penalty killing: 80.1 percent (89 for 111), tied for 23rd.
GOALTENDERS: Avalanche - David Aebischer (8-4-0, 0 SO, 3.44 GAA); Peter Budaj (1-2-2, 2.69). Coyotes - Joseph (8-5-0, 2, 2.17); David Leneveu (1-4-2, 3.10).
2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Avalanche, 3-1-0.
LAST MEETING: March 14, 2004; Avalanche, 4-1. At Denver, John-Michael Liles' first-period goal gave Colorado a lead it would not surrender.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Avalanche - 3-3-0 on the road; Coyotes - 5-3-1 at home.