Season series -- This is the first of two meetings between the teams this season. They play again in Denver on March 11. The Panthers won the only meeting between the teams last season, 3-0, at BankAtlantic Center.
Big story -- Provided he plays, and there's little reason to believe he won't, Colorado goalie Craig Anderson will face his former team for the first time. Anderson spent the last three seasons as the backup goalie for the Panthers. The goalie on the other end will be Scott Clemmensen, who replaced him as Tomas Vokoun's backup. The Panthers will likely be without Vokoun as he recovers from his unfortunate ear injury.
Avalanche -- They needed a big win and a strong performance from Anderson to gain a little of that confidence and swagger back. They got it Monday when Anderson stopped 33 shots for his third shutout of the season, 3-0, in Tampa Bay. Even better was the performance from Matt Duchene, who scored two goals in a game for the first time and now has 6 goals and 8 assists in 28 games. Colorado had lost three in a row and eight of 10 before Monday's win. Anderson, who has started 26 of the team's 28 games, had given up four or more goals six times during that stretch.
"We knew we needed to get back on track," Duchene told reporters following Monday's game. "We talked a lot before the game about what we were doing before. We were playing loose before and the last few games we were playing tight when we had gotten the lead, a little tight when we needed to be loose. I think (Monday) we played a little looser and we played a great game."
Panthers -- Here's a team that is so frustrated guys are actually bashing their own teammates in the head. OK, not funny. Vokoun thankfully does not have a concussion or any inner ear damage despite getting whacked in the side of the head by Keith Ballard's stick after the defenseman, out of frustration, accidentally hit him with a baseball-type swing when he was attempting to break his stick over the goal.
The much-discussed and overly played incident occurred 8:54 into the first period of Monday's 4-3 loss to Atlanta, the Panthers' fifth in a row. Florida looked like it was getting on track with wins in five of its previous six games before this current losing streak began against Pittsburgh on Nov. 23. Clemmensen, though, has been better. He stopped 28 of 30 shots after replacing Vokoun on Monday and has six goals against 98 shots over his last three appearances.
"I think he's found his grove," Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said of Clemmensen. "He's given us a chance to stay in games and win games or at least be in them right until the end. I think as a group in front of him we're playing better than we were early in the year and to his credit he's playing better than he was early in the year."
Who's hot -- For the Avalanche, Duchene is on a three-game point streak (3-1-4) and a two-game goal scoring streak, while Paul Stastny and Wojtek Wolski are each on three-game point streaks with a goal and two assists apiece.
For the Panthers, in the last three games Stephen Weiss has a goal and three assists and Nathan Horton has three assists. Michael Frolik had a goal and an assist in Monday's loss in Atlanta.
Injury report -- The Avs could again be without Milan Hejduk, who sat out his second straight game Monday with a sore knee. Ruslan Salei (back) and Kyle Cumiskey (foot) are still on injured reserve. David Jones is likely gone for the season with a torn ACL. ... The Panthers will likely be without Vokoun (ear). Kenndal McArdle (shoulder), David Booth (concussion) and Cory Stillman (knee) remain out.
Stat pack -- In three seasons with the Panthers, Anderson went 24-14-7 with five shutouts in 53 total appearances. He was 15-7-5 with three shutouts in 31 appearances last season and is already 14-7-5 with three shutouts in 26 appearances with the Avalanche.
Puck drop -- "The guys were great," Anderson told the Panthers' web site about his time in Florida. "Obviously, in hockey everything is changing and you never get to play with the same guys twice. But I definitely enjoyed the couple years we had with the same guys. They're memories I'll never forget."