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Mueller Nets Two In Loss To San Jose

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Although he was only gone for one game, the Avalanche was certainly happy to have Peter Mueller back tonight against the San Jose Sharks. After sitting out last night’s game in Phoenix with a hip ailment – the first contest he’s missed since being acquired at the March 3 trade deadline - Mueller scored twice Sunday evening in Colorado’s 4-3 loss.

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The 21-year-old has been a crucial part of Colorado’s power-play unit since arriving in Denver, and that notion continued to hold true tonight. Mueller gave the Avalanche a 2-1 lead in the second period after one-timing a Matt Duchene cross-ice pass with the Avs on a man-advantage.

But he wasn’t done quite yet, as the Bloomington, Minn., native also came through with a clutch goal that came as a result of being in a prime scoring location midway through the third period. The Avs trailed the Sharks 3-2 when Matt Duchene won a faceoff that was controlled by Milan Hejduk, who proceeded to send the puck back to Kyle Cumiskey at the point. The defenseman found an opening and blasted a shot that rang off the post before deflecting off Mueller’s stick in front of the net and in to even the game.

The goals improved Mueller’s totals to 17 points (7g/10a) in 12 games with Colorado, but they weren’t enough to help the Avs overtake the Sharks on Sunday.

Devin Setoguchi was credited with his second tally of the contest with 5:49 remaining after Joe Pavelski’s shot bounced off his leg and into the Avalanche net for the deciding goal. Colorado pulled Craig Anderson with 1:40 remaining in the final frame and had several chances, but couldn’t pull even.

With seven games left on the schedule, Colorado now sits eighth in the Western Conference with 89 points. The Avs have a four-point cushion over the Calgary Flames, who stayed in the playoff hunt by earning a 5-3 win over the Washington Capitals earlier in the day. The Flames have six games remaining, including one against the Avs on April 2.

Porter Finding His Groove
The less-heralded player who was part of the Avalanche’s trade deadline deal with the Phoenix Coyotes continues to pay dividends as well.

After going without a point in his first six games with Colorado, Kevin Porter now has a three-game point streak after scoring a second period goal tonight against San Jose. The 24-year-old began the streak with an assist Wednesday against the Los Angeles Kings and then netted his first Avalanche goal last night with a short-handed effort against his former team.

Tonight, Porter tied the game at 1-1 after depositing the rebound of a Cody McLeod attempt 1:20 into the second period.

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Liles Back In
Defenseman John-Michael Liles was inserted back into Colorado’s lineup after being a healthy scratch the last three games, as Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco suited up all seven of his healthy defensemen against the Sharks.

With each defenseman seeing a slightly lightened workload, the Indianapolis native skated for 17:18 and fired five shots on goal. Liles continues to lead all Avalanche defensemen with 28 points (5g/23a) in 52 outings.

With Mueller and Liles both back on the ice tonight, forwards Chris Durno and Marek Svatos served as healthy scratches for Colorado.

Anderson Sets Another Record
Craig Anderson made his 66th start and appearance of the season tonight, setting a new franchise record for games played by a netminder. Anderson surpassed the previous mark of 65, set by legendary Avalanche goaltender Patrick Roy during the 1997-98 campaign.

It was the second franchise mark Anderson had set in as many nights, as he broke Roy’s records for minutes played by a goaltender Saturday evening against the Coyotes. Anderson has now been in net for 3,928 minutes this season, bettering Roy’s mark of 3835.

Forward Matt Hendricks suffered a head injury in the first period and did not return…The Sharks played tonight’s game without center Joe Thornton (lower-body injury) and defenseman Rob Blake (maintenance day)…Sharks goaltender Thomas Greiss made just his 15th appearance of the season as starting netminder Evgeni Nabokov was given the night off…Avalanche defenseman Kyle Quincey saw a season-low 12:17 of ice time.
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