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Avalanche start road trip by taking on Coyotes

by Brian Hunter

AVALANCHE (25-21-6) at COYOTES (26-19-9)

TV: ALT2 (HD), FS-A (HD)

Last 10:
Colorado 4-6-0; Phoenix 4-6-0

Season series: Third of four meetings this season, and the first at Arena. Colorado will be looking to return the favor after Phoenix swept at the Pepsi Center. Taylor Pyatt scored both goals and Jason LaBarbera stopped all 34 shots in a 2-0 win on Jan. 6, and Eric Belanger tallied a pair of goals to spark a 5-2 victory on Jan. 26.

Big story: Peter Forsberg is going to give it one more go. The former first-round draft pick, who played his last NHL game almost three years ago, officially signed with the Avalanche on Sunday after skating with the team for several weeks. Foot injuries derailed the latter half of Forsberg's career, but he still put up 14 points in a brief nine-game stint with the Avs at the end of the 2007-08 season.

Team Scope:

It's expected Forsberg will be ready to play at some point during Colorado's four-game road trip that begins Monday and continues on with games in Minnesota, Columbus and Nashville. What kind of impact he'll have remains to be seen, but it seems he can only help an Avalanche team that has lost five of their last six and was blanked 3-0 by the Ducks on Saturday afternoon. That completed a seven-game homestand in which they won only twice.

"I do think it's a good time for our team to get on the road and maybe get away from some distractions and just be together again," coach Joe Sacco said. "It's a good time; we need to get out there and maybe simplify our game a little bit."

The first two games out of the All-Star break were hardly encouraging for Phoenix, which blew a three-goal lead against San Jose and got routed by Vancouver. The Coyotes needed someone to come up big on Saturday, and both Pyatt and goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov answered the bell. Pyatt scored 2:20 into the third period against the Wild, breaking a scoreless tie, and Bryzgalov turned in his best effort of late by stopping all 25 shots he faced in a 1-0 victory.

"The work that's needed hadn't been there (in previous games)," coach Dave Tippett said. "So we had to refocus for a couple days here and … it's a good first step for us tonight. That's the way it's going to have to be for the rest of the year. If we're going to get results, that kind of effort has got to be there."

Who's hot: Milan Hejduk has 4 goals and 4 assists in his last eight games for the Avalanche. ... Keith Yandle had 3 goals and 12 assists during a 10-game points streak for the Coyotes that was snapped in Wednesday's shutout loss to the Canucks.

Injury report: Colorado hopes Forsberg can make up for some of the offensive production lost when forward Tomas Fleischmann went down for the season with blood clots in his lungs. Defenseman Kyle Quincey is also out for the season after shoulder surgery. Forward Peter Mueller, who hasn't played all season due to a concussion, is skating again. Forward Ryan O'Reilly is day-to-day with a shoulder injury.

Phoenix defenseman Ed Jovanovski is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Forward Vernon Fiddler (upper body) and defenseman David Schlemko (head) are on injured reserve.

Stat pack: Forsberg has 249 goals and 885 points in 706 regular-season games with the Nordiques and Avalanche. ... The Coyotes are 9-3-1 this season against teams from the Northwest Division.

Puck drop: "It's been feeling better and better. I came here to try it," said Forsberg, who won Stanley Cups with Colorado in 1995 and 2001 and the Hart Trophy in 2003. "I wanted to play hockey, I love playing hockey. I'm not sure I'm going to be good or nothing like that. We'll see how it goes when I start playing."

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