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Without their top two centers, the Colorado Avalanche figure to see a decrease in scoring. As long as they are playing at home, that may not be the case.
The Avalanche look to wrap up a perfect three-game homestand on Monday when they face the Nashville Predators, losers of five straight on the road.
After defeating Phoenix 5-4 in overtime on Tuesday, Colorado (18-16-1) squandered a three-goal lead before beating Detroit 4-3 in a shootout on Saturday.
Ruslan Salei, Ryan Smyth and John-Michael Liles all scored power-play goals in the first period Saturday, as the Avalanche tied a franchise record for goals with the man advantage in a period. Colorado also improved to 5-for-11 on the power play in its last two games after going 3-for-30 in its previous eight contests.
Saturday's victory came without center Paul Stastny, who broke his right forearm against the Coyotes. Stastny, who leads the Avalanche with 21 assists and 31 points, is out indefinitely.
The Avalanche is also missing captain Joe Sakic, who will be sidelined at least three months after undergoing surgery to repair three broken fingers and tendon damage following a snowblower accident.
"We're disappointed they are out, but we'll try our best to win games and stay in the playoff hunt," said Colorado's Wojtek Wolski, who scored the game winner in the shootout.
With two of its best players out, the Avalanche will need production from other sources. Smyth has responded with two goals and four assists in the last two games while Liles has two goals and three assists during that span.
The Avalanche has been very strong offensively at home lately, scoring 30 goals in compiling a 6-1-0 record at the Pepsi Center since Nov. 26. Goals have been much harder to come by on the road, though, with Colorado averaging 1.6 per game while going 2-3-1 in its last six away contests.
The Predators (17-15-3) also have struggled on the road, getting outscored 17-7 in losing their last five. Nashville had won six of seven away games immediately before its current slide, which directly followed a six-game road skid.
The Predators surrendered three unanswered second-period goals in Sunday's 5-2 loss to Edmonton.
"We didn't get quite as many pucks on goal as we would have liked to," said Nashville goaltender Dan Ellis, who stopped 13 of 17 shots before being pulled in the second period. "Pucks were bouncing all over the place. They were able to get a couple of fluky bounces which gave them the momentum and we couldn't get it back."
Ellis, who was 2-1-1 with a 1.23 goals-against average and one shutout in his previous four starts, is 1-1-0 with a 0.50 GAA and one shutout lifetime versus the Avalanche.
Colorado's Peter Budaj made 41 saves and stopped all three shots in the shootout on Saturday after posting a 3.71 GAA in losing his three previous starts. Budaj stopped 26 shots in a 1-0 home victory over Nashville on Nov. 8, improving to 5-3-0 with a 2.34 GAA lifetime against the Predators.
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