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Coyotes-Avalanche Preview @NHLdotcom

GAME: Phoenix Coyotes (36-37-5) at Colorado Avalanche (42-28-8).

TIME: Tuesday, 9 p.m. EDT.

Though he was injured with a fractured heel and had lost his starting job, the Colorado Avalanche acquired goaltender Jose Theodore in a trade last month to give them a veteran presence heading into the postseason.

Theodore is scheduled to make his first start with his new team when the Avalanche close out their home schedule looking for a season-series sweep of the Phoenix Coyotes.

Colorado is one of four teams looking for the final three playoff berths in the Western Conference. With 93 points, the Avs are in seventh place, one point behind sixth-place San Jose.

Colorado also has a two-point lead over eighth-place Edmonton, and is three ahead of ninth-place Vancouver. The Avs, who have made the postseason each year since moving to Denver from Quebec in 1995, ends the regular season on the road against Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton.

A win in this contest, though, could give them some much-needed momentum they need before going on the road. Colorado has won five in a row and seven of its last eight meetings against Phoenix.

The plan was to have Theodore make his Colorado debut in this game. But after Peter Budaj allowed two goals on the first three shots he faced Monday versus Minnesota, Theodore was pressed into his first action since Jan. 31.

The former Hart and Vezina Trophy winner finished with 16 saves in the 5-2 loss.

"I felt a little rust," said Theodore, acquired from Montreal for goaltender David Aebischer. "Overall, it was good just to be able to get in the game like that to work on little details.

"It's never easy when you walk in when you're not starting and you just go in. But I'm happy that I was able to play a couple of periods before my start. I did some good things. I did some things I wasn't solid technically. I felt more comfortable as the game went on and that's what I wanted."

Joe Sakic has an assist Monday, giving him nine goals and 15 assists in a 13-game points streak. He needs a point in this contest to match the longest points streak of his career.

Sakic had 16 goals and 11 assists in 14 straight games from Feb. 29-March 29, 2000. He also has four goals and six assists in seven straight games versus the Coyotes.

Phoenix dropped its fourth in a row with a 3-2 loss Monday to San Jose. Mike Comrie and Steve Reinprecht scored for the Coyotes, who will play three of their final games on the road including this contest.

"We battled hard and got some pucks on net but we just didn't get enough pucks and enough opportunities," Comrie said.

STANDINGS: Coyotes - 77 points, 5th place, 30 PB, Pacific Division. Avalanche - 92 points, 2nd place, 6 PB, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Coyotes - Shane Doan, 29 goals, 35 assists and 64 points; Sean O'Donnell, 121 PIM. Avalanche - Sakic, 31 goals, 54 assists and 85 points; Ian Laperriere, 109 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Coyotes - Power play: 18.0 percent (92 for 511), 16th in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.6 percent (391 for 485), 23rd. Avalanche - Power play: 19.2 percent (86 for 449), 7th. Penalty killing: 84.0 percent (356 for 424), 8th.

GOALTENDERS: Coyotes - Curtis Joseph (30-21-3, 2 SO, 3.01 GAA); Philippe Sauve (3-6-0, 0, 3.54). Avalanche - Theodore (17-15-5, 0, 3.46); Budaj (14-11-6, 2, 2.86).

SEASON SERIES: Avalanche, 3-0.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 31; Avalanche, 5-2. At Glendale, Ariz., Laperriere scored two goals for Colorado, which got 30 saves from Budaj. Geoff Sanderson had a goal and an assist for the Coyotes.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Coyotes - 18-19-1 on the road; Avalanche - 24-10-6 at home.

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