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Avalanche hope to end skid against Canucks

by Brian Compton

AVALANCHE (11-17-4) at CANUCKS (18-9-6)


Last 10: Colorado 3-7-0; Vancouver 7-3-0.

Season series: This is the third of four meetings. The Canucks are 2-0-0 against the Avalanche this season.

Big story: These Northwest Division rivals are headed in opposite directions. Vancouver enters Thursday’s action riding a five-game winning streak, while Colorado has lost three in a row.

Team scope:

Avalanche: Colorado’s skid reached three straight games Wednesday, as the Avalanche suffered a 4-3 loss to the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Ryan O’Reilly made it a one-goal game for the Avs during a two-man advantage with 7:26 remaining in regulation, but Colorado couldn’t come up with the equalizer despite outshooting the Flames 16-2 in the third period.

"I don't know how many more times we can talk about having poor starts and not being ready to play in the first period," Avs defenseman Erik Johnson told The Denver Post. "We're sick and tired of it, but it's up to us to change it. They get in at 3 in the morning (Wednesday) and we laid an egg in the first period. It's unacceptable."

Canucks: Goals were hard to come by Tuesday, as Cory Schneider found himself in a goaltenders’ duel with Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Neither team found the back of the net through regulation and overtime, but Schneider denied Artem Anisimov, Ryan Johansen and Matt Calvert in the shootout and Maxim Lapierre scored in Round 3 to lift the Canucks to a 1-0 victory at Rogers Arena.

Schneider finished with 17 saves in the shutout.

"It's better than 40 shots, but it is challenging to just make sure you are sharp and ready when you haven't really felt a puck," Schneider said after posting his third shutout of the season, and the seventh of his career. "I haven't really experienced a game like that at this level, so it was a challenge."

Who’s hot: O’Reilly has two goals and five assists during a four-game point streak for Colorado, while PA Parenteau is 2-3-5 in the past three. … Schneider is rolling for Vancouver. He’s won five straight starts, allowing just five goals over that span.

Injury report: Colorado will be missing center Paul Stastny (foot), winger Steve Downie (knee) and defenseman Ryan Wilson (ankle). … Zack Kassian (back), David Booth (ankle surgery) and Ryan Kesler (broken foot) are all out for Vancouver.

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