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Sunday's Rink Notes

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
It’s become a common turn of phrase this season, but Saturday night’s 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets was a big win for the Colorado Avalanche. The triumph gave the Avs a 3-2 record on its five-game homestand and also kicked off a stretch that sees the team playing three games in four nights.

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“Every game we’ve been playing lately has been a big game for us. Every win is a huge win and every loss is a huge loss,” said center Ryan O’Reilly. “The standings are so tight right now, so no matter who you’re playing against you really need the two points. That’s why every game feels like one of the biggest games of the year.”

Following a practice Sunday morning at Family Sports Center, the Avalanche will travel to St. Paul, Minn., to face the Wild on Monday night before returning home to host the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday evening.

Following that string of games, the club will have three consecutive days completely off (Dec. 23-25) for the holiday break before returning to action on Dec. 26 against the Dallas Stars.

The focus is currently on the Wild game, as Minnesota has had Colorado’s number this year. Minnesota has come out on top of all four meetings between the teams, although Colorado has salvaged two points from the season series by taking a pair of those contests into shootouts.

“Any year, any team can have another team’s number; they just happen to have ours right now,” said defenseman Brett Clark. “We have to step up and change that starting tomorrow. We just need to stick to our game plan and worry about ourselves.”

Confidence Booster
It almost goes without saying that ideally the Avs would like to be occupying first place in the Northwest Division heading into the holiday break. Colorado (46 points) currently holds a two-point edge over the Calgary Flames (44 points) in the standings. A scenario in which the Avalanche leads the Northwest heading into the break is made more likely considering the Flames have only one game remaining before the holiday hiatus.

“It would be great heading into the break leading the division, but we just have to take it one day at a time,” said Clark. “We have to worry about Minnesota. We need to come out firing on all cylinders tomorrow night.”

Cumiskey Skating
The Avalanche held an optional skate Sunday morning, and in a welcome sight defenseman Kyle Cumiskey was on the ice for the first time since suffering a foot injury on Nov. 23 against the Philadelphia Flyers. The blueliner appeared in each of Colorado’s first 24 contests and had already set career highs in goals (3) and points (7) before succumbing to the injury, causing him to miss Colorado’s past 13 contests. Cumiskey skated for just a few minutes this morning before exiting.

Marek Svatos (groin) also took part in the optional skate. Although his health is steadily improving, Svatos will not travel with the team to Minnesota.

Anderson In Net
Craig Anderson is expected to start against Minnesota and would set a new career-best with his 32nd start and appearance of the season tomorrow. The netminder tied his career-high for games played during Saturday’s contest against Columbus.
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