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Avs continue trip in New Jersey

by Mike G. Morreale
AVALANCHE (38-30-4) at DEVILS (40-25-5)


Last 10: Colorado 7-3-0; New Jersey 5-4-1

Season Series: This is the second and final meeting between the teams. The Avalanche won 6-1 back on Nov. 30 in Denver when center Ryan O'Reilly had a goal and two assists and goalie Semyon Varlamov made 18 saves.

Big Story: The NHL's two highest-scoring rookies will meet for the second time this season when Adam Henrique and the Devils host Gabriel Landeskog and the Avalanche. Henrique and Landeskog enter the game atop the rookie scoring race with 46 points apiece, but Landeskog leads all first-year players with 20 goals. The Avalanche, who are in the second game of a three-game road trip that will close out their schedule against the Eastern Conference, stand eighth in the West with 80 points and 10 games remaining. The Devils are sixth in the East with 85 points, three ahead of seventh-place Ottawa.

Team Scope:

Avalanche : The Avalanche won for the fifth time in six outings in dramatic fashion on Wednesday when Peter Mueller scored in the second round of a shootout to give Colorado a 5-4 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Mueller's goal gave the Avs the bonus point after Jamie McGinn earned the first one when he knocked in a loose puck that was laying on the goal line with just two seconds left in regulation to pull the Avs into a 4-4 tie. Landeskog, whose rush helped set up the tying goal, earlier became the first rookie this season to reach the 20-goal mark. Semyon Varlamov made just 20 saves through 65 minutes but stopped Brad Boyes, Jason Pominville and Tyler Ennis in the shootout to improve to 8-0 in the tiebreaker.

The win moved the Avs into eighth in the West, two points behind Los Angeles, Calgary and San Jose.

Devils: New Jersey saw its four-game winning streak come to an end and was shut out for the third time in the last nine games following a 3-0 setback to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. The Devils' 17 shots on goal, including just three in the third period, were the second-fewest allowed by the Flyers in a game this season. Despite the loss, New Jersey, which missed the playoffs with 34 wins last season, has 40 victories this season and is in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race with 12 games remaining.

"We got out-competed in the small areas of the rink that we are usually very good at," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "It doesn't happen very often and we just have to get our game back and keep moving forward."

Who's Hot: Devils left wing Zach Parise has 6 goals and 11 points over the last 10 games. … Colorado's McGinn, who scored twice in a 5-4 shootout victory over Buffalo on Wednesday, has seven goals in his last six games.

Injury Report: The Devils are without center Travis Zajac (left Achilles) and defenseman Henrik Tallinder (blood clot). … Colorado is missing center Matt Duchene (ankle); forward Chuck Kobasew (sore back) is questionable.

Stat Pack: Varlamov is 8-0 in shootouts and has a .785 career save percentage in the tiebreaker, best among active goalies who've faced 60 or more attempts. … New Jersey has killed off 26 consecutive power plays dating to Feb. 27 and leads the League with an 89.6 percent efficiency on the PK.

Puck Drop: Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk is one goal away from becoming one of three active players to reach 400 goals in less than 900 games. Teemu Selanne did it in 700 and Jaromir Jagr in 742. Kovalchuk, who has 30 goals this season -- the ninth straight season he's reached that mark -- has scored 399 times in 767 regular-season games.

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