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Colorado Avalanche vs. Detroit Red Wings @NHLdotcom
Avalanche-Red Wings Preview

GAME: Colorado Avalanche (38-21-13-5) at Detroit Red Wings (44-20-11-2).

TIME: Saturday, 1:30 p.m. EST.

Manny Legace has never started a playoff game in his six-year NHL career.

That's likely to change in less than two weeks.

Coming off one of his best performances of the season, Legace will try to help the Detroit Red Wings complete a home-and-home sweep of the archrival Colorado Avalanche when the teams meet at Joe Louis Arena.

Third on Detroit's depth chart when this season began, Legace may be the team's starting goaltender when the playoffs begin. A groin injury ended Dominik Hasek's season in December, and an ankle injury sustained by Curtis Joseph on Tuesday could sideline him the rest of the regular season.

With Hasek and Joseph out, Legace will likely start every game, with Marc Lamothe serving as his backup. Legace is 74-34-18 in six NHL seasons with Los Angeles and Detroit, but has made just one playoff appearance in relief.

"If Curtis is injured, Manny is going to be the guy," Red Wings coach Dave Lewis said.

After allowing 13 goals in three games, Legace rebounded with a 34-save performance in a 3-1 victory at Colorado on Thursday.

"Everyone's worried about it around here and panicking, and I was just trying block everybody's panic out," Legace said. "I been through those in my career, where bounces are just not going your way. It's hard work to get you out of it."

Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg scored late in the third period for the Red Wings, who are trying to hold off San Jose for the top seed in the Western Conference. Detroit is tied with Tampa Bay for the NHL's best record and has one game in hand on the Lightning.

The Red Wings' remaining schedule is not particularly difficult, with two games against Columbus and one each against Minnesota and St. Louis. Three of their final five games are at home, where they are a league-best 28-6-4-0.

Thursday's loss extended Colorado's winless streak to five (0-4-1), and ended any chance it had of catching Detroit for first in the conference. The Northwest Division-leading Avalanche remained three points ahead of Vancouver.

After scoring 19 goals during a four-game win streak, Colorado has managed just seven during the five-game skid.

"They're going to start going in," Avs forward Steve Konowalchuk said. "We've got to stick with the program. That's a program that eventually is going to win for us."

Avalanche captain Joe Sakic has one goal in seven games and right wing Milan Hejduk has been stuck on 35 for eight contests.

Also contributing to Colorado's offensive slump is the absence of left wing Alex Tanguay, tied for the NHL lead with 54 assists. Tanguay hasn't played since March 12 and will likely miss the rest of the regular season with a sprained right knee.

STANDINGS: Avalanche - 94 points, 1st place, Northwest Division. Red Wings - 101 points, 1st place, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Avalanche - Hejduk, 35 goals; Tanguay, 54 assists; Sakic, 85 points; Peter Worrell, 177 PIM. Red Wings - Robert Lang, 29 goals, 49 assists and 78 points; Brendan Shanahan, 107 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 25): Avalanche - Power play: 21.0 percent (73 for 347), 3rd in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.3 percent (285 for 338), 14th. Red Wings - Power play: 20.4 percent (62 for 304), 4th. Penalty killing: 86.7 percent (260 for 300), 1st.

GOALTENDERS: Avalanche - David Aebischer (30-19-9, 4 SO, 2.11 GAA); Tommy Salo (18-18-7, 3, 2.53). Red Wings - Legace (20-9-5, 2, 2.10); Lamothe (0-0-1, 0.92).

SEASON SERIES: Red Wings, 2-1.

LAST MEETING: Thursday; Red Wings, 3-1. At Denver, Legace made Tomas Holmstrom's first-period goal stand up until Datsyuk and Zetterberg extended Detroit's lead in the third.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Avalanche - 20-7-7-4 on the road; Red Wings - 28-6-4-0 at home.

Associated Press
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