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Avs and Flames both desperate for a win

by John Kreiser /

AVALANCHE (2-4-0) at FLAMES (1-2-1)


Season series: It's the first of four meetings between the Northeast Division rivals this season. Calgary won the first four games last season before the Avs took the last two, including a 4-1 win at Scotiabank Saddledome in their last visit on March 30.

Big story: The bottom two teams in the West square off with both desperate for a victory to avoid falling too far back in the playoff race. Both teams have struggled to score in the early going.

Team Scope:

Avalanche: The Avs had a number of good stretches in Wednesday night's game at Vancouver, but failed to convert on their chances and left town with a 3-0 loss, their third consecutive defeat, in which they've scored just once. Colorado managed only 24 shots at Roberto Luongo and went 0-for-4 with the power play -- including a 1:24 two-man advantage in which it failed to get a shot on goal. The Avalanche now has one power-play goal in 19 tries this season.

"We're struggling to score goals right now," coach Joe Sacco said. "They came down on their first chance and it goes in the back of our net. We've talked quite a bit about facing adversity, and I thought we played hard, we stuck with it. The guys really played hard. I can't fault their effort.

"The 5-on-3 was a key. We didn't generate any chances. It was 2-0 at that time; if we score there, it's a totally different game. Usually when you don't score on an opportunity like a 5-on-3, it comes back to haunt you."

Flames: Calgary is coming off a four-day break after holding off Edmonton 4-3 on Saturday night for its first win of the season. The Flames are hoping their power-play success -- two of their four goals against the Oilers came with the extra man -- continues against a team that's struggled to kill penalties. Colorado has allowed 10 power-play goals in 36 opportunities.

The Flames are 5 for 17 (29.4 percent) on the power play this season. One reason for their success has been newcomer Dennis Wideman, who's become the quarterback the Flames have lacked.

"I think every other team, they really respect his shot," Flames coach Bob Hartley said after Wednesday's practice. "Obviously, if they don't pay attention to him, he's going to shoot and we all know the quality of his shot. And if they pay attention to him, that opens up other guys.

"He's bringing us a totally new dimension on our power play and from an offensive standpoint, also. I think he's been very good. Plus, from a defensive standpoint, he's been outstanding."

Who's hot: Matt Duchene leads the Avs with just three goals and five points. … Curtis Glencross scored a goal on Saturday and has three goals and five points in his last three games. Lee Stempniak is coming off a three-point night against the Oilers.

Injury report: Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog has missed the Avs' last two games with head and leg injuries after taking a big hit in San Jose on Saturday. The Avalanche are also missing forward Steve Downie, who's gone for the season after undergoing knee surgery. … The Flames say rookie forward Sven Baertschi is extremely doubtful with a lower-body injury sustained at Tuesday's practice. Defenseman Anton Babchuk, who has yet to play this season due to a shoulder injury, practiced Thursday.

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