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Avalanche hoping to establish hometown dominance

by Rick Sadowski
DENVER -- With two home losses in the past three games and a 3-4-0 record in seven home games this season, the Colorado Avalanche need to re-establish the Pepsi Center as a difficult place for visiting teams.

The team hopes to do that starting Monday, when the Avs start a three-game homestand against the St. Louis Blues (8 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN2).

"We've been up and down at home so far in the short amount of time that we've been here," coach Joe Sacco said following Monday's morning practice. "It's important that we establish ourselves and that we get our record back to .500 tonight and don't look back."

The Avalanche own a 5-3-1 road record, but is coming off a 3-1 loss Saturday in Detroit.

"We've been up and down at home so far in the short amount of time that we've been here. It's important that we establish ourselves and that we get our record back to .500 tonight and don't look back." -- Joe Sacco

"You always want to be a good home team," Sacco said. "We want to be a team that's difficult to play against in our own building. I'm not worried about it. We've played some good games at home and gotten some results that we didn't want. We have a three-game homestand this week and it's important that we get back on track here."

Peter Budaj will start in goal for the ninth consecutive game as Craig Anderson recovers from a right-knee injury. Anderson, who was injured Oct. 26 during pregame warm-ups in Vancouver, skated and took some shots Monday morning, but John Grahame will continue as the backup.

"A positive sign," Sacco said of Anderson. "He made it through the pregame skate. We'll know more when he gets through a real practice, but all signs seem to indicate that he's progressing."

Ryan Wilson will play against the Blues as one of seven defensemen after missing five games with a leg injury. Left wing David Koci, who broke his jaw in a Sept. 18 preseason game with Los Angeles, is available but isn't expected to dress. Defenseman Kyle Quincey (concussion) skated but won't play.

The Avalanche are down to seven healthy defensemen, having returned rookies Colby Cohen and David Liffiton to the Lake Erie Monsters in the American Hockey League.

The Blues, who are 6-0-1 at home but just 3-3-2 on the road, will welcome defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo back in the lineup against the Avalanche. Colaiacovo has missed seven games with a concussion he suffered Oct. 28 against Nashville.

With just 36 goals in 15 games, the Blues are tied with the Predators as the lowest-scoring team in the Western Conference, and the Blues have gotten just three goals from defensemen -- one each from Colaiacovo, Roman Polak and Erik Johnson.

"I know I can help this team," said Colaiacovo, who had 7 goals in 67 games last season. "I feel real excited to get back. You want to keep it simple your first couple of shifts, just to get your legs and your wind back. I'm going to take it a shift at a time and just try to do the things I need to do to help this team win."

The Blues are 0-2-1 in their past three games and in the middle  of a three-game road trip that began Saturday with a 5-3 loss in Phoenix.

Jaroslav Halak will start in goal for St. Louis. He's allowed two goals or fewer in eight of 12 games and has three shutouts.
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