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Ducks and Avs try to end slumps

by John Kreiser /
AVALANCHE (26-29-7) at DUCKS (32-25-5)


Last 10 -- Colorado 1-8-1; Anaheim 4-5-1

Season series -- The Avs come to the Honda Center for the first time this season. Anaheim won the only previous meeting between the teams, 3-0 on Feb. 5.

Big story -- The first thing playoff hopefuls have to do is beat teams that they should beat. If you're the Ducks, that means you need a win against the Avs, who've dropped three in a row and 12 of 13 after losing 4-3 at Los Angeles on Saturday. The Ducks are on an 0-4-1 slide of their own, though they got a point in Friday's 3-2 OT loss to Minnesota.

Team Scope:

Avalanche -- Bet that Avs coach Joe Sacco emphasizes the importance of a better start. The Avs were dominated for 2 1/2 period on Saturday in Los Angeles before making a late push that came up short.

"The team that wakes up first and is ready to go first is going to give themselves the best chance to win," Sacco said. "We just need to be better. We can't start games like that. It's tough to play catch-up in this League."

Ducks -- Anaheim tried to look at the positives after the loss to Minnesota, a game that saw Pierre-Marc Bouchard score the winner with 6.3 seconds left in OT on the Wild's second breakaway in less than a minute.

"We have to look at the positives," said defenseman Francois Beauchemin, who scored the tying goal against Minnesota. "We got one point. That is not enough, but we'll take that. We'll have to go back to work on Sunday."

Who's hot -- David Jones had two goals 39 seconds apart for Colorado in L.A. He has scored three times in his last three games and leads the team with 22 goals. … Teemu Selanne has 3 goals and 4 points in his last five games. The 40-year-old has 57 points in 53 games.

Injury report -- Colorado captain Adam Foote is traveling with the Avalanche while he recovers from his quad injury, but is unsure when he'll return. T.J. Galiardi is out at least six weeks after having surgery on his arm, while defenseman Ryan O'Byrne is expected to miss a week or two due to facial lacerations.

Stat pack -- The Ducks have won the last three games and eight of the last nine against the Avs. … Brian Elliott has allowed 9 goals in his first two starts for the Avs; Craig Anderson, the goaltender Colorado sent to Ottawa to get him, has three wins and a shutout.

Puck drop -- This can be a difficult time for teams that are all but assured of not making the playoffs. Just ask Colorado defenseman John-Michael Liles.

"This time of year is always tough," he said after the loss in Los Angeles. "When we're in a rut like this I think that anything can happen and that's the nature of this business. I've said that lots of times that it's a performance driven business. When a team isn't performing you search for answers and it's the unfortunate part because you never want to see teammates go anywhere or friends go anywhere. What can I say? We're not performing to where we need to be. That's the bottom line."

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