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Los Angeles
Kings
32-43-7
Colorado
Avalanche
44-31-7

25 SOG
28 SOG
1st2nd3rdT
LAK
COL
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Kings-Avalanche Preview

Saturday, 03.01.2008 / 6:00 PM

Associated Press

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Kings-Avalanche Preview
Los Angeles Kings vs. Colorado Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche should be excited about the way they're opening March, having a playoff spot within reach and anticipating the imminent return of Peter Forsberg.

The Avalanche continue their playoff push Saturday when they host the lowly Los Angeles Kings.

The Avs (33-26-6) are tied with Nashville for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, but are also within striking distance of first place in the Northwest Division with 17 games to play.

Colorado is coming off a 3-2 shootout win over Vancouver on Wednesday, as captain Joe Sakic scored the tying goal with 14.7 seconds left and added another in the shootout.

"Any time you can come from behind and find a way to get two points, it's a big lift for your hockey club," said Sakic, who has a goal and an assist in three games after missing 38 with a sports hernia.

The Avs are expecting another player to return soon.

Forsberg, who played for the Colorado franchise for 10 years before the league's lockout in 2004-05, agreed to a $5 million, one-year deal Monday after sitting out the first five months of the season with a right foot injury. Forsberg was named the 2003 NHL MVP, and led the Avs to Stanley Cup championships in 1996 and 2001.

Forsberg said he won't play in this game, but he could return Tuesday night against Vancouver.

"Every game we've injected a new player," said coach Joel Quenneville, who has also gotten top forwards Paul Stastny (appendectomy) and Ryan Smyth (broken ankle) back in the past two weeks. "We've just got to keep building. Peter should be back soon and that should give us more life."

Stastny has two goals and an assist in four games after missing the previous 15. He has two goals and an assist in three games against the Kings (26-35-4) this season.

The Avs open a four-game homestand with this contest, but they have been terrible at the Pepsi Center lately.

After starting the season 15-3-0 at home, Colorado is 3-8-2 in Denver since Dec. 27. The Avs have been outscored 14-5 during a four-game home losing streak, and have not dropped five in a row at home since an eight-game skid from Oct. 21-Nov. 24, 1990, when the franchise was the Quebec Nordiques.

In their only game against the Kings at the Pepsi Center this season on Dec. 29, the Avs lost 3-1. Colorado, which has won this season's two meetings in Los Angeles, has lost four of its last five home games to the Kings.

Avs goaltender Jose Theodore made 29 saves on Wednesday, improving to 3-1-0 with a 2.15 goals-against average in his last four games after losing his previous four starts. Theodore, who is just 1-5-0 with a 3.42 GAA at home since Jan. 22, is 1-1-0 with a 2.01 GAA against the Kings this season.

Los Angeles fell to Edmonton 5-4 on Thursday, losing for the fourth time in five games. The Kings have allowed a league-high 217 goals, including 11 in their last two contests.

"If you look at the game it wasn't a matter of them making great plays it was a matter of us making poor plays," said Dustin Brown, who scored twice Thursday. "When you make that many mistakes it's tough to win games."

Brown has one goal and two assists versus the Avalanche this season.

Dan Cloutier stopped 22 shots on Thursday in his third straight start for No. 1 goalie Jason LaBarbera, who is nursing a groin injury. LaBarbera's status for this game is unknown.

2007-2008 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 01 '08LAK 2 at COL 5R. Salei
Dec 29 '07LAK 3 at COL 1S. Thornton
Dec 17 '07COL 4 at LAK 2P. Stastny
Dec 01 '07COL 5 at LAK 2R. Smyth
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%