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Avs look to keep up winning ways, extend Wild's skid

by Deborah Francisco /
AVALANCHE (18-17-1) at WILD (20-11-5)


Last 10:
Colorado 6-4-0; Minnesota 4-4-2

Season series: This is the second of six meetings between the Avalanche and the Wild this season. The Wild shut out the Avalanche, 1-0, in their first meeting on Nov. 17 in Minnesota. Niklas Backstrom stopped 27 shots to earn the shutout in a game that was scoreless for the first two periods. Minnesota dominated the 2010-11 season series, 4-2.

Big Story: The best late Christmas the Wild can give the State of Hockey on Monday night will be a victory over division rival Colorado in order to snap out of a six-game winless streak -- this will be no easy feat against an Avalanche team that has won four straight games.

Team Scope:

Avalanche: The Avalanche gave their fans a nice Christmas gift on Friday night with a 2-1 overtime victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The win was Colorado's eighth straight at home, setting a franchise record since the franchise moved to Denver in 1995. This eight-game streak followed a home record of 4-9-0 to start the season.

"We hadn't been playing well at home for a while," Matt Duchene told the Denver Post. "I think there was a little bit of a carryover from last season with our play at home for a while. But now I think we're feeling a lot more confident, and it's showing in the standings finally."

The recent success at home helped the Avalanche enter the Christmas break with a record above .500 for the second straight season.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere has played in net for Colorado's last four victories and could be on line for another start on Monday.

Wild: Despite losing six games in a row, the Wild still stands on top of the Northwest Division with 45 points, thanks to a seven-game win streak that preceded its current funk. They struggled to gain any ground on a recent trip across Western Canada with three losses to division rivals Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.

Prior to the short Christmas break, the Wild fell to the Oilers, 4-1. Dany Heatley scored Minnesota's lone goal in that game.

"We just weren't ready at the start and it cost us the game," Minnesota forward Kyle Brodziak said. "I think we have to take a look in the mirror and make sure we are better from here on out. It hasn't been good enough. It's not fun right now."

Who's Hot:
Colorado center Ryan O'Reilly notched a goal and five shots in his last outing and he won 73 percent of his faceoffs. He leads the Avalanche in points with 24 (8G-16A) … Heatley has two points in his last four games including the lone goal in Thursday's contest.

Injury Report: Colorado forward David Jones is day-to-day with a groin injury. … Mikko Koivu has missed four straight games with a leg injury, and the Wild are also without Devin Setoguchi (ankle), Casey Wellman (wrist) and Guillaume Latendresse (post-concussion symptoms).
Stat Pack: Colorado has won 10 straight shootouts. … The Avalanche and Wild have decided games in the shootout seven times in the last five seasons.

Puck Drop: "Nothing is going to get any easier," Giguere told the Denver Post. "It's nice to be over .500 now, and hopefully this is the last time in a long time we'll talk about being under .500 again."
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