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Canucks, Avalanche look to find consistency

Colorado is 1-3-1 in past five games; Vancouver is 0-3-1 in past four

by Rick Sadowski / nhl

CANUCKS (20-20-12) at AVALANCHE (27-24-4) 

TV: 9 p.m. ET; ALT, SNP, NHL.TV 

DENVER -- Maybe the Colorado Avalanche can draw inspiration from the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos as they continue their pursuit of a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Avalanche close out what has been a winless homestand Tuesday against the Vancouver Canucks at Pepsi Center. 

Colorado had its morning skate as football fans were pouring into downtown to attend a celebration concert and parade for the Broncos, who defeated the Carolina Panthers 24-10 on Sunday in Super Bowl 50. 

The Avalanche are 1-3-1 in the past five games and 0-2-1 at home following the NHL All-Star break while allowing nearly 42 shots per game. Colorado has 11 goals in five games and has scored two goals or fewer in seven of the past 10. 

"I think it all comes down to our work ethic," defenseman Francois Beauchemin said. "I don't think we've worked hard enough in games, especially in the (defensive) zone. It's in our heads. We just have to make sure we're ready to play and battle every night and make sure we compete, because we haven't done that in the last little while." 

The Avalanche used an 18-8-2 run in December and January to climb into the playoff race and have the second wild card in the Western Conference heading into their game Tuesday. 

"Playoff spot or not, we're not happy with how we're playing right now," Beauchemin said. "We need to be quicker on pucks. It seems like we're always second to it, and that's why we're spending so much time in our end. We're just a little late on the man coverage; we seem to be a step behind on everything." 

The Canucks are struggling too. They're in fifth place in the Pacific Division, five points behind the third-place Anaheim Ducks. They've gone 0-3-1 in their past four games, have scored one goal in each of the past three games and are 1-for-12 on power plays in the past eight games. 

Canucks coach Willie Desjardins will put together a "Kid Line" with left wing Sven Baertschi, 23, center Bo Horvat, 20, and right wing Jake Virtanen, 19, in an attempt to spark the offense. 

"We have to treat every game like it's a Game 7 or we won't get in the playoffs," said Horvat, who has scored seven of his nine goals in the past 13 games. "Right now I think we're just trying to find new chemistry." 

Baertschi has nine goals this season. Virtanen, who was the Canucks' first-round pick (No. 6) in the 2014 NHL Draft, has two goals in 27 games. 

"I think it will be good getting the young guys together," Virtanen said. "We definitely believe we can (make the playoffs) and we're excited for the end-of-the-year push." 

Vancouver goalie Jacob Markstrom will make his first start since Jan. 21 when he made 28 saves in a 4-2 win against the Boston Bruins. Markstrom has gone 4-0-1 in his past five games. 
  
Here are the projected lineups: 

CANUCKS 

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Jannik Hansen  

Sven Baertschi - Bo Horvat - Jake Virtanen 

Emerson Etem - Linden Vey - Alexandre Burrows  

Derek Dorsett - Brandon Sutter - Radim Vrbata  

Alexander Edler - Christopher Tanev  

Dan Hamhuis - Luca Sbisa  

Ben Hutton - Matt Bartkowski  

Jacob Markstrom 

Ryan Miller  

Injured: None 

Scratched: Alex Biega, Adam Cracknell, Jared McCann  

AVALANCHE 

Mikhail Grigorenko - Nathan MacKinnon - Matt Duchene  

Gabriel Landeskog - Carl Soderberg - Blake Comeau  

Alex Tanguay - John Mitchell - Jarome Iginla  

Andreas Martinsen - Chris Wagner - Cody McLeod  

Francois Beauchemin - Erik Johnson  

Nick Holden - Tyson Barrie  

Chris Bigras - Andrew Bodnarchuk  

Semyon Varlamov  

Calvin Pickard  

Injured: Reto Berra (ankle), Jack Skille (concussion), Ben Street (chest), Brad Stuart (back surgery), Jesse Winchester (head) 

Scratched: Nate Guenin, Zach Redmond  

Status report: Vrbata, who has one goal in his past 18 games, has been moved to Vancouver's fourth line ... Holden will wear a full face shield to protect his broken nose suffered when he was hit with a high stick by Winnipeg Jets forward Drew Stafford on Saturday. 

Who's hot: Vey has one goal and one assist in a two-game scoring streak ... Iginla has an assist in two consecutive games ... MacKinnon has an assist in two consecutive games.

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