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Avs try to end slump as they visit Jackets

by Deborah Francisco /
AVALANCHE (25-23-6) AT BLUE JACKETS (26-23-5)


Last 10 -- Colorado 3-7-0; Columbus 5-3-2

Season series -- This is the third meeting of four between the Avalanche and Blue Jackets this season. Colorado won each of the first two by a 5-1 score.

Big story -- Both Columbus and Colorado are desperately chasing to get back into playoff contention in the Western Conference. Colorado trails Columbus by just one point in the standings, setting the stage for Friday night's game.

Team Scope:

Avalanche -- Colorado has lost five straight after a disheartening 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild it suffered on Wednesday night. Not only did Colorado lose the game and the two points to a division rival, but it also lost two more players to injury in defenseman Kyle Cumiskey and forward TJ Galiardi.

The Avs will also be without starting goaltender Craig Anderson, who has returned to Denver on for personal reasons. Peter Budaj is slated to start the game and John Grahame has been called up from the Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL to back up Budaj.

"I think there's some things we can take as positives from tonight," David Jones told the Denver Post after Wednesday loss. "But the bottom line is it's another loss."

Columbus -- The Blue Jackets put together a three-game winning streak before falling 3-2 to the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday night. Kristian Huselius and Grant Clitsome gave the Jackets an early lead with first-period power-play goals, but they couldn't hold on despite firing 44 shots at Antti Niemi.

"It was a tough one," Columbus captain Rick Nash said. "We had a great first and then sat back after that and lost on a tough goal. We had a lot of energy in the first. In the second period they seemed to take it to us and take over the game."

Injury report -- Blue Jackets defenseman Rostislav Klesla is out with a lower-body injury, and forward Ethan Moreau (broken ribs) is skating again.… Colorado lost Cumiskey (head) and Galiardi (wrist) on Wednesday night. Forward Peter Mueller (concussion), forward Tomas Fleischmann (pulmonary emboli) and defenseman Kyle Quincey (shoulder) are out indefinitely.

Who's hot - Derek Brassard leads the Blue Jackets in assists this season with a team-best 25. He also has four points in his last five games. … David Jones has set career-highs in games (49), goals (18), assists (12) and points (30) this season.

Stat pack -- Colorado has won the last six meetings between these two clubs and has outscored the Blue Jackets 26-9 in those contests. The Avs have won 28 of the 38 games between the teams since the Blue Jackets entered the NHL in 2000.

Puck drop -- The Avs' latest batch of injuries could bring about the return of Peter Forsberg. He signed with Colorado on Monday but had to obtain a work visa in order to play. He could be in the lineup either against the Jackets or on Saturday in Nashville.

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