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At the Rink: Kings at Avalanche

by Rick Sadowski

DENVER -- Rookie goalie Calvin Pickard will start for the Colorado Avalanche against the Los Angeles Kings at Pepsi Center on Tuesday.

Pickard, 22, was recalled from the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League on Monday because Semyon Varlamov is day-to-day with a groin injury he sustained Sunday in the third period of the Avalanche's 3-2 win against the Minnesota Wild.

Pickard played in 15 games for the Avalanche earlier this season, and went 6-6-3 with a 2.18 goals-against average and .936 save percentage while Varlamov was out with a groin injury. He made 34 saves Sunday in a 1-0 victory against the Chicago Wolves for his record 52nd career win with Lake Erie.

"It's nice to feel that confidence with the coaching staff that I can come up and play," said Pickard, whose previous Avalanche appearance was Jan. 13 in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Carolina Hurricanes when he made 44 saves. "I've been playing quite a bit down there, so I'm staying sharp. There's definitely a lot of pressure involved, but I can't think too hard about that. I just want to go out and play my game. This situation has happened before where I was called up and played the next night. You don't have to think about it too much, just go out and play and hopefully it goes well."

Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said he chose to start Pickard rather than backup Reto Berra because Berra hasn't started since Nov. 25, when he allowed three goals on eight shots against the Arizona Coyotes. Pickard replaced him in the first period and made 25 saves in a come-from-behind 4-3 win.

"Reto has been practicing really well and in the three games he came in in relief he did a good job for us," Roy said. "I just feel it'd be unfair to put him in a situation like this. It's an important game for us and in all the games Calvin played for us he played really well. He's one of the reasons why we're in the position today thinking about still having a chance to make the playoffs."

All three goalies were on the ice Tuesday, but Varlamov left early after testing his injury.

"We certainly don't want to take any chances," Roy said. "He was not comfortable. It doesn't hurt him, but it doesn't feel like it's solid enough to take a chance. I'd rather see him miss tonight and be ready [Thursday against the New Jersey Devils]."

The Avalanche (30-25-11) have won three games in a row, matching their season high, and eight of their past 11. They are seven points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the second Western Conference wild-card spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 16 games remaining.

The Kings (31-21-13) are three points behind the Jets and two behind the Calgary Flames for third place in the Pacific Division. Eleven of their final 17 games will be played on the road. They're 2-0-1 in their past three games.

Here are the projected lineups:

KINGS

Marian Gaborik - Anze Kopitar - Dwight King

Trevor Lewis - Jeff Carter - Tyler Toffoli

Kyle Clifford - Nick Shore - Dustin Brown

Jordan Nolan - Jarret Stoll - Justin Williams

Robyn Regehr - Drew Doughty

Brayden McNabb - Andrej Sekera

Jake Muzzin - Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick

Martin Jones

Injured: Alec Martinez (concussion symptoms), Tanner Pearson (leg)

Scratched: Andy Andreoff, Jamie McBain

Suspended: Slava Voynov

AVALANCHE

Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Cody McLeod

Jordan Caron - Matt Duchene - Jarome Iginla

Alex Tanguay - John Mitchell - Dennis Everberg

Freddie Hamilton - Marc-Andre Cliche - Daniel Briere

Jan Hejda - Zach Redmond

Nate Guenin - Tyson Barrie

Brad Stuart - Nick Holden

Calvin Pickard

Reto Berra

Scratched: None

Injured: Patrick Bordeleau (fractured kneecap), Joey Hishon (elbow, neck), Erik Johnson (knee), Jamie McGinn (back surgery), Nathan MacKinnon (broken foot), Borna Rendulic (broken leg), Semyon Varlamov (groin), Ryan Wilson (shoulder), Jesse Winchester (concussion)

Status report: Quick will start for the Kings for the 21st time in 22 games.

Who's hot: Carter has four goals in his past four games ... Gaborik has two goals and one assist in his past three games ... Landeskog has three goals and three assists in a three-game point streak ... Iginla has two goals and two assists in a three-game streak.

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