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Blue Jackets play host to banged-up Avalanche

by Deborah Francisco

AVALANCHE (7-6-1) at BLUE JACKETS (9-5-0)

TV -- ALT2(HD), FS-O(HD)

Last 10 --
Colorado 4-5-1; Columbus 7-3-0

Season Series --
This is the second of four games between Colorado and Columbus this season. The Avalanche bested the Blue Jackets 5-1 in their first meeting on Oct. 30 at the Pepsi Center behind goals from David Jones, Chris Stewart, David Liffiton, Paul Stastny and Cody McLeod.

Big Story -- The Blue Jackets are coming off of a franchise-defining, 8-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday. It is the largest goal-margin in franchise history and the eight tallies ties a single-game team best for the Blue Jackets. The Avalanche, however, gave up a 2-1 lead in the third period of their last contest to fall 4-2 to the Calgary Flames on Nov. 9.

Team Scope:

Avalanche -- Colorado has won three of its past five contests, all without starting netminder Craig Anderson, who is out with a knee injury. Peter Budaj has filled in nicely for the Avalanche between the pipes, allowing just 13 goals in five starts, including one shutout performance on Nov. 6.

Colorado played arguably its best game of the season Saturday in a 5-0 win over the Dallas Stars prior to its 4-2 loss to Calgary on Tuesday night.

Injuries seem to keep piling up for the Avalanche, who lost two players in the last contest and have four players out with concussions so far this season -- an NHL high.

"They're starting to pile up," coach Joe Sacco told the Denver Post. "We're facing some adversity right now. Hopefully we'll be getting some guys back sooner rather than later, but we don't feel sorry for ourselves. Nobody is going to feel sorry for you in this League. We still feel like we can compete with anyone in this League, no matter who is in the lineup."

Blue Jackets --
Prior to the Blue Jackets’ 8-1 dismissal of St. Louis on Wednesday, they were actually the only team in the League yet to score more than three goals in a game. But when it rains it pours, and the Blue Jackets unleashed a tropical storm on Wednesday night with two-goal games from both Jakub Voracek and Chris Clark.

"We were struggling to score goals," coach Scott Arniel said. "We've had individuals and lines that were working, getting chances and not getting the rewards from it. Their hard work paid off."

Columbus has won three of its past five contests and seven of its past 10. Mathieu Garon and Steve Mason have been splitting time between the pipes.

Who's Hot -- Stewart leads Colorado in goals (10) and points (17). Defenseman John-Michael Liles leads the squad in assists with 11. Derek Brassard boasts an eight-game point streak and Rick Nash has tallied in three of his last four contests.

Injury Report --
David Van Der Gulik (torn ACL) and T.J. Galiardi (broken wrist) both sustained injuries in Wednesday’s contest. Anderson is out indefinitely (knee) but is expected to return soon. Defenseman Adam Foote (concussion) is also expected back soon. Also out with concussions are Kyle Quincey, Kyle Cumiskey and Peter Mueller. Forward David Koci (broken jaw) is on injured reserve.

Blue Jackets center Andrew Murray (knee) is questionable for Friday. Forward Ethan Moreau is out 4-6 weeks (hand surgery). Forward Kristian Huselius (lower body) and defenseman Mike Commodore (hand) are on injured reserve.

Stat Pack -- Colorado and Columbus are neck and neck for minor penalties received this season. Colorado (17th in the NHL) has taken 68 minor penalties while Columbus (18th) has taken 69 minor penalties in 14 games.

Puck Drop --
The Avalanche acquired defenseman Ryan O'Byrne from Montreal on Thursday in exchange for prospect Michael Bournival. O'Byrne is expected to make his debut with the Avalanche on Friday.

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