The Colorado Avalanche have been one of the hottest teams in the NHL over the last month, but it might not be enough to earn a spot in the postseason.
The Avalanche will try to bounce back from a disappointing loss and keep their slim playoff hopes alive Thursday when they visit the Phoenix Coyotes.
Colorado (39-30-7) lost 3-0 to Vancouver on Tuesday for its first regulation defeat since falling 5-3 at Anaheim on Feb. 25. Though the Avalanche are 10-1-2 since losing to the Ducks, they are seven points behind Calgary for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with six games to play.
"Our margin of error was minimal going into (Tuesday's) game, now it is no room," said Colorado coach Joel Quenneville, whose team was shut out for just the fourth time this season and first since losing 2-0 at St. Louis on Dec. 30.
"We basically have to win every game going forward."
Of the six games left on Colorado's schedule, only Thursday's will feature an opponent not among the West's top eight teams. Colorado is 2-0-1 against the Coyotes (29-42-5) this season and has won four straight in Phoenix.
The Avalanche and Flames meet next Tuesday in Calgary then close out the season on April 8 in Colorado.
The Colorado franchise has made the playoffs in each of its 10 seasons since moving to Denver and hasn't been left out of postseason play since 1993-94, when it was known as the Quebec Nordiques.
"We're not out, but obviously we need some help," center Joe Sakic said. "We are fighting every game now."
Sakic had his three-game goal streak and six-game point streak snapped Tuesday. The team's leading scorer with 90 points, Sakic had seven goals and six assists during the point streak.
Sakic and rookie Paul Stastny each scored two goals in Colorado's 6-3 win at Phoenix on March 17. Sakic has three goals and six points, while Stastny has four goals against the Coyotes this season.
Stastny, though, comes into this contest struggling. He has not posted a point in five games since registering one in a rookie-record 20 straight contests from Feb. 3-March 17.
Phoenix, which is trying to avoid finishing at the bottom of the West, lost 6-0 at Dallas on Tuesday, three days after falling 4-3 to the Stars in a shootout.
Dallas scored five goals after the first period as Phoenix was shut out for the eighth time this season and fell to 2-9-2 in March.
"It was a disappointing loss, but I thought two-thirds of the way through the second period we had a really nice game going," Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said. "But (Dallas goalie Marty) Turco made some key saves when we could have tied it. They're a really good hockey club and their goalie was fabulous."
Shane Doan has two of his team-leading 26 goals against Colorado this season, but has been held without a goal in his last four games.
Phoenix won 5-4 in a shootout over Colorado on Jan. 26 for its only win over the Avalanche in the last nine meetings. The Coyotes are 2-11-0 with two ties in the series since 2002-03.