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Preview: Avalanche at Ducks

Anaheim looks to lengthen Pacific Division lead; Colorado aims to end three-game losing streak @NHLdotcom

AVALANCHE (13-28-1) at DUCKS (25-13-9)

10 p.m. ET; PRIME, ALT2, NHL.TV


Avalanche team scope

Backup goalie Calvin Pickard will start for the Colorado Avalanche. Semyon Varlamov, who started each of the past three games, will be out until at least after the All-Star break because of a groin injury. "This is no longer a day-to-day thing, it has happened too much," coach Jared Bednar told the Avalanche website Wednesday. "It has obviously affected his ability to get in a rhythm and play well for us. Staying healthy, I'm sure, has a large part to do with that." Colorado has lost three straight games, allowed 13 goals in that span and is 2-13-0 in its past 15 games. They were defeated by the Anaheim Ducks 4-1 in Colorado on Jan. 12. "It's kind of fresh in our minds," Pickard said. "We played them not too long ago, we know what to expect. They play a hard-fought game, they throw a lot of pucks to the net and they get a lot of traffic there. They have some really good skill up front and we play them well. It's going to be a good test for us and a good measuring stick to see how we are going to do."


Ducks team scope

The Ducks are 7-1-1 in their past nine games and are two points ahead of the idle Edmonton Oilers for first place in the Pacific Division. Goaltender John Gibson, who made 27 saves in a 2-1 overtime win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday, will make his third straight start. Anaheim, which concludes a three-game homestand (1-0-1), held an optional morning skate Thursday. The Ducks power play had been 0-for-10 in four games before Rickard Rakell scored with the man advantage in overtime on Tuesday. "When you get a 4-on-3 in overtime, you're supposed to score," coach Randy Carlyle said. "And a goal scorer went out there and did that." Rakell leads the Ducks with 19 goals this season.

Avalanche projected lineup

Mikko Rantanen -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Rene Bourque

Gabriel Landeskog -- Matt Duchene -- Matt Nieto

Blake Comeau -- Carl Soderberg -- Jarome Iginla

Mikhail Grigorenko -- John Mitchell -- Joe Colborne

Fedor Tyutin -- Tyson Barrie

Nikita Zadorov -- Cody Goloubef

Francois Beauchemin - Eric Gelinas

Calvin Pickard

Spencer Martin

Scratched: Andreas Martinsen, Patrick Wiercioch

Injured: Erik Johnson (broken fibula), Semyon Varlamov (groin)


Ducks projected lineup

Rickard Rakell -- Ryan Getzlaf -- Corey Perry

Andrew Cogliano -- Ryan Kesler -- Jakob Silfverberg

Nick Ritchie -- Antoine Vermette -- Ondrej Kase

Joseph Cramarossa -- Logan Shaw -- Jared Boll

Cam Fowler -- Sami Vatanen

Hampus Lindholm -- Josh Manson

Kevin Bieksa -- Shea Theodore

John Gibson

Jonathan Bernier

Scratched: Korbinian Holzer, Stefan Noesen

Injured: Nate Thompson (Achilles), Simon Despres (concussion symptoms), Clayton Stoner (lower body)


Status report

Martin was recalled from San Antonio of the American Hockey League on Wednesday and will back up Pickard. ... Noesen was recalled from San Diego of the AHL on Thursday and will be a scratch.


Who's hot

Duchene has three points (two goals, one assist) in his past two games. ... MacKinnon has five points (two goals, three assists) in his past four games. ... Gibson has allowed two goals or fewer in each of his past seven starts. ... Getzlaf has six points (two goals, four assists) in a six-game point streak. ... Rakell has goals in three of his past four games.

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