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Devils-Avalanche Preview

Tuesday, 11.29.2011 / 10:56 AM

Associated Press

The Colorado Avalanche hoped an eight-game homestand would help turn around their struggles.

After dropping three of the first five, things haven't gone as planned.

Colorado looks to get back on track Wednesday night when it hosts the New Jersey Devils, who have won three of their last four on the road.

"We've been struggling a little bit, but we have to come out and play a full 60 minutes," Kevin Porter said.

Colorado entered the contest with the league's second-ranked power play, converting 23.8 percent of its chances, despite going 3 for 26 over its last eight games.

The Avalanche have scored one or no goals in four of six contests.

"There just was not enough quality chances, and that was the biggest problem," coach Joe Sacco said. "We have to do a better job of driving more to the inside, getting in front of the goaltender more, making their job more difficult."

Semyon Varlamov fell to 1-7-1 with a 3.67 goals-against average in his last nine starts, but made 32 saves in a solid effort. Veteran Milan Hejduk, who has only three assists in his last seven games and hasn't scored since Nov. 12 in a loss to Calgary, praised Varlamov for his recent play.

"He's playing well and giving us a chance every game," Hejduk said of Varlamov. "We're not helping him much."

It may not get much easier against the Devils, whose seven road wins are tied for second-most in the NHL.

New Jersey (12-9-1), though, is coming off a 3-2 home loss to the New York Islanders on Friday. It is having power-play struggles of its own, going 1 for 11 over the last four games and ranking near the bottom of the Eastern Conference with a 12.8 percent conversion rate.

The Devils' five short-handed goals allowed are most in the NHL, and the Islanders' game-winning goal came on a short-handed tally Saturday.

"It's deflating," goalie Martin Brodeur told the team's official website. "I think you get an opportunity to try to take the game to a different level, and you get scored on. It's tough. These are momentum switchers in a game that are tough for guys to handle mentally, and especially to go back on the power play after, you're a little more tentative."

In contrast, New Jersey boasts the league's best penalty kill at 94.2 percent, killing off 52 of 53 opponents' power plays over its last 14 games.

New Jersey's offense in any situation has been a problem, as it has scored four goals combined over the last three. Ilya Kovalchuk, a perennial 40-goal scorer prior to playing his first full season in New Jersey in 2010-11, has four goals - two since Oct. 21.

Kovalchuk, however, has two goals and three assists during a three-game point streak against Colorado.

2011-2012 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 15 '12COL 0 at NJD 1 - SOI. Kovalchuk
Nov 30 '11NJD 1 at COL 6T. Galiardi
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
P. Elias2381220+11031
A. Henrique2051015-2002
I. Kovalchuk185914-8821
Z. Parise236713-81010
D. Zubrus237512+0611
P. Sykora235611+11811
D. Clarkson23729-74621
A. Larsson23268-41000
A. Greene20088+2400
M. Fayne23336-31000
N. Palmieri19336-51200
R. Carter23213-61600
M. Tedenby22033-7600
B. Salvador23022-41200
H. Tallinder23022-5800
A. Volchenkov23022-91200
B. Mills21011-61300
J. Josefson5011+1200
C. Janssen20000-22800
R. Pelley7000+0700
E. Boulton5000-11900
T. Sestito4000-1000
V. Zharkov4000-2000
M. Fraser3000-1900
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
J. Hedberg127-4-1273382.24.920
M. Brodeur125-6-0353113.09.887
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
M. Duchene259918-2441
M. Hejduk258917-31041
R. O'Reilly2531417-3410
K. Quincey2531316-32431
P. Stastny257714-4820
D. Jones257714-51221
R. Wilson2511213+52200
G. Landeskog255611+31011
E. Johnson21099-12400
D. Winnik25358-51600
S. O'Brien25178-24710
J. Hejda25347-13400
C. Kobasew24336-71001
J. McClement23415+0600
J. Lindstrom16235-9010
T. Galiardi22224-5801
S. Elliott3213+1001
R. O'Byrne25123+12900
K. Porter11101-5000
C. McLeod21011-25200
B. Yip4000+0200
P. Mueller3000+0000
M. Hunwick2000-2000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
S. Varlamov187-10-1525242.95.901
J. Giguere84-3-0141841.85.924
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