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After win at L.A., Avs head to Anaheim

by Davis Harper
AVALANCHE (26-21-2) at DUCKS (17-22-7)


Last 10: Colorado 6-3-1; Anaheim 7-2-1.

Season Series: This is the second of four meetings. In the first, Colorado closed out 2011 with a 4-2 win in Anaheim on Dec. 31 behind two goals from Milan Hejduk. Overall, however, Anaheim was won 15 of the last 18 meetings.

Big Story: Colorado looks to maintain eighth place in the clogged Western Conference standings against Anaheim, a team outside playoff contention, but one that is carrying a four-game winning streak. The Avs will try to end Anaheim's five-game home winning streak after holding off the Ducks' cross-town opponent, Los Angeles, for a 3-1 win on Saturday night.
Team Scope:

Avalanche: After a three-game stumble at the beginning of January, Colorado appears to be righting the ship just in time for the extended All-Star break. Colorado beat Florida, 4-3 in overtime, on Wednesday at home, and then began a two-game swing in southern California with the win over Los Angeles on Saturday night. After going down a goal early in the second, Colorado netted three unanswered to pull away. Rookie All-Star winger Gabriel Landeskog scored a power-play goal late in the third to seal it, as Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick lost in regulation for just the second time in 15 games.

If Colorado can steal one against the surging Ducks, it will head home for an extended run at the Pepsi Center full of confidence. In a January that features nine of 12 games away from Denver, the Avs have gone 5-3-1 through Saturday.

Ducks: At the moment, few offenses in the League are hotter than the talented Ducks. Anaheim has outscored opponents 33-14 over their last eight, but against Ottawa on Saturday, Anaheim showed it is capable of winning a game played largely in its own zone. The Senators – sitting comfortably in fifth place in the Eastern standings – entered Honda Center having won five straight on the road. The Sens outshot Anaheim 32-29, and put an impressive 63 shots on net. The defense blocked 22, and goalie Jonas Hiller saved all but one of those that got through.

"When you get shot-blockers, the players on the team appreciate it, everybody appreciates it," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "It takes a lot of courage to do that. So when you see guys doing it as much as I our guys are doing it right now, you can tell the care level is way up there right now."

"Everybody was sacrificing and playing for the team, and that's the way you win," added Hiller, who is 5-0-1 in his last six starts. "It's a lot of fun to play like that."

Who's Hot: It seems everyone on Anaheim is scoring in bunches, but Corey Perry has pulled away as the Ducks' leading goal scorer (22 goals) with four in four games. ... Eight games into his heroic return from concussion, Colorado's Peter Mueller seems to be fully rehabilitated. Mueller has three goals and an assist in the last two games.
Injury Report: Key attacker Matt Duchene is still recovering from a knee injury he sustained against Phoenix on Dec. 29. … Anaheim's Dan Ellis (torn groin), Devante Smith-Pelly (fractured left foot) and Matt Smaby (right thumb surgery) will all miss at least a month with their respective injuries.

Stat Pack: Hiller is 6-3 with a 2.22 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in nine career starts against Colorado. Former Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere started Saturday for the Avs, so Semyon Varlamov will likely get the nod. Varlamov has lost his last two overall, but is 2-1-0 with a 2.27 GAA and .924 save percentage in his short career against Anaheim.

Puck Drop: With Saturday's win, Boudreau moved above .500 for the first time as Anaheim coach. Boudreau, who joined the Ducks at the start of December, is now 10-9-3 with his new club. After the game, he talked about Anaheim's evolving mentality.

"Quite frankly, I couldn't care less if we were picking off (the) Mickey Mouse club. Two points is two points. But it's nice. You look at the schedule and you go, 'Oh, my goodness. Oh, my goodness.' And you start to beat them. It makes your guys more believing that what you're preaching is true. You (start) to say you are a good team. You just have to start believing in yourself."
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