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Avalanche facing elimination from playoff contention

Regulation loss to Nashville among scenarios that will end Colorado's postseason hope

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com Correspondent

AVALANCHE (39-36-4) at PREDATORS (39-26-14)

TV: 8 p.m. ET, ALT, FS-TN, NHL.TV

NASHVILLE -- The Colorado Avalanche will be eliminated from Stanley Cup Playoff contention with a regulation loss to the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday.

A win by the Minnesota Wild against the San Jose Sharks, or overtime losses by the Wild and Avalanche, will also eliminate Colorado.

"We're fighting for our lives," Avalanche forward Matt Duchene said. "We've got to win the next three, and we've got to hope [Minnesota] loses the next two. That's the mindset going forward here."

Avalanche coach Patrick Roy had strong words about Duchene's goal celebration in a 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Sunday. Duchene said he and Roy have talked since then and that the two have no issue.

"We talked, we had a good chat [Monday]," Duchene said. "It's one of those things that I totally understand where he's coming from and what he's trying to do. I'm on board with it, and I think we all are. It's one of those things that right away, I knew that was not the right thing. It wasn't the right reaction. I kind of buried my head after that, even going back to the bench because I understood it just wasn't the right thing. We had a good talk, and it's all good." 

Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis could return to the lineup. Ellis has missed the past two games with an upper-body injury after taking a puck to the side of the head in a 5-2 loss to the Dallas Stars on March 29. 

"It's up to the coaches at this point," Ellis said. "I feel good. Like I said before, no one is going to be 100 percent in here. It's the way things are as you head down the stretch and into the [playoffs], and that's part of the game and part of why you have a bunch of teammates to pick you up at that point." 

Here are the projected lineups:

AVALANCHE

Shawn Matthias - Matt Duchene - Mikkel Boedker

Gabriel Landeskog - Carl Soderberg - Blake Comeau  

Mikhail Grigorenko - John Mitchell - Jarome Iginla

Cody McLeod - Andrew Agozzino - Jack Skille  

Francois Beauchemin - Tyson Barrie

Nick Holden - Erik Johnson  

Nikita Zadorov - Zach Redmond

Semyon Varlamov  

Calvin Pickard

Scratched: Andrew Bodnarchuk, Andreas Martinsen, Chris Bigras

Injured: Nathan MacKinnon (knee), Brad Stuart (back), Ben Street (chest), Jesse Winchester (concussion), Eric Gelinas (elbow)

PREDATORS

Calle Jarnkrok - Ryan Johansen - James Neal

Filip Forsberg - Mike Ribeiro - Craig Smith

Colin Wilson - Mike Fisher - Viktor Arvidsson  

Cody Bass - Paul Gaustad - Colton Sissons

Roman Josi - Shea Weber

Mattias Ekholm - Petter Granberg

Barret Jackman - Ryan Ellis

Pekka Rinne

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Eric Nystrom, Austin Watson

Injured: Anthony Bitetto (lower body), Miikka Salomaki (undisclosed), Gabriel Bourque (upper body)

Status report: Varlamov will start for the Avalanche. … Zadorov will replace Bigras on defense. … The Predators held an optional morning skate. … Rinne is expected to start for the Predators . … Defenseman Stefan Elliott was reassigned to Milwaukee of the American Hockey League.

Who's hot: Landeskog has two goals and one assist in his past four games. … Neal has eight goals and six assists in his past 10 games. 

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