Ducks Seek Fourth Straight Win As Avalanche Visits
Sunday, 03.21.2010 / 3:00 PM
NHL.comAVALANCHE (40-24-6) at DUCKS (33-29-8)
Tonight's game will be broadcast on Altitude and Mile High Sports Radio AM 1510.
Colorado 5-5-0; Anaheim 4-5-1
The Ducks and the Avs have split two meetings this season, the most recent a 4-3 win for Colorado at Honda Center on March 3.
While the Avalanche jockeys for position in the West's top eight, the Ducks will look for two points to keep their quickly fading playoff hopes alive.
The Avs, despite falling to Calgary in their last game Wednesday, have played well of late. Milan Hejduk
has scored in his last three games and Chris Stewart
has 22 points in his last 13. Colorado's deadline pickup has also been paying his share of dividends, as Peter Mueller
has 11 points in his first eight games since arriving from Phoenix.
The big news in Anaheim is that the team will be without James Wisniewski for an eight-game stretch after his hit on ex-teammate Brent Seabrook of Chicago. While Wisniewski has been a crucial cog for the Ducks this season, they managed a stirring rally in their first game without him Friday, rallying from two goals down to knock off the Islanders on the strength of two scores by Lubomir Visnovsky and an overtime-winner by Saku Koivu. Curtis McElhinney picked up his first win as a Duck in the outing, replacing Jonas Hiller, who was having a rare off night.
The win was Anaheim's third in a row, but the recent run has come on the heels of a five-game skid, putting the Ducks' chances of making a fifth consecutive playoff berth in serious jeopardy. Still, Anaheim's charges seem undeterred and are playing as if the Ducks are still in the mix. Koivu's winner Friday was his sixth point in three games, while Ryan Getzlaf has six in his last five.
Colorado's Paul Stastny
has been one of the hottest players in the League of late, notching 16 points over his current nine-game point streak. Meanwhile, Anaheim's sun must be agreeing with the newly-acquired Visnovsky, who has scored five goals in seven games since joining the Ducks.
Anaheim's George Parros is questionable for Saturday with a head injury, while Ryan Wilson
(mild concussion) is out for Colorado. The Avs will also be without Stephane Yelle, who is suffering from a leg injury, while winger Cody McLeod
should make his return after missing two games with a leg injury of his own. Defenseman Ruslan Salei (torso) will also be available for Colorado.
Avs goalie Craig Anderson
has played very well in his first season in Colorado, winning 35 games in his 61 starts, but the Illinois native may be getting worn down. Prior to this year, Anderson's high for starts in a season was 31, and the burden of the added workload might be coming home to roost -- he has given up three goals or more seven times in his last nine games.
It's now or never for Anaheim. If these Ducks don't fly together soon, it will likely mean the end of their 2010 campaign. While the Avs don't face quite the same do-or-die consequences, the two points are no less important for Colorado.