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Avalanche hoping to ground Ducks

Anaheim flying with 18-1-2 mark in past 21 games

by Rick Sadowski / NHL.com Correspondent

DUCKS (37-19-9) at AVALANCHE (34-30-4)

TV: 10 p.m. ET; KCOP-13, ALT, NHL.TV

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche defenseman Francois Beauchemin isn't surprised the Anaheim Ducks have climbed their way into first place in the Pacific Division after a slow start. He spent the previous five seasons with the Ducks and will play against them for the second time Wednesday at Pepsi Center.

"I think everybody was surprised by the way they started," said Beauchemin, who signed a three-year, $13.5 million contract as a free agent with the Avalanche on July 1. "They had to come back at some point, and since the Christmas break they've been the hottest team in the League. They have depth from top to bottom in their lineup, so this will be a good challenge for us."

The Avalanche defeated the Ducks 3-0 on Oct. 16 at the Honda Center -- their fourth consecutive loss to begin the season -- but Anaheim has gone 25-4-3 in their past 32 games.

The Ducks' franchise-record 11-game winning streak ended Monday with a 2-1 shootout loss against the Washington Capitals, but they've gained a point in 14 consecutive games (12-0-2) since a 6-2 loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 8, and are 18-1-2 in their past 21 games.

"We've all seen them play the past few weeks and we all know how hard it will be against them," Beauchemin said. "They play a big, hard game, so it's important to stay disciplined and don't take bad penalties, especially with their power play the way it's been going."

The Ducks scored 19 power-play goals during the winning streak before going 0-for-4 against the Capitals.    

"It's been impressive what they've been doing," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "Ask anybody, this is the team that everybody expected all year. Sometimes you have to go through adversity to become an even better team. Their GM [Bob Murray] has made some good moves to bring in some quality players, and the core is playing really well for them. I guess the core was struggling at the start of the year, and right now they're playing some good hockey for them."

The Ducks acquired 6-foot-1, 205-pound left wing Jamie McGinn from the Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 29 for a conditional third-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, and he gives Anaheim a forward who can provide offense from the front of the net. McGinn has two goals and one assist in four games since the trade while playing on a line with Rickard Rakell and Corey Perry.

"He's been a solid addition," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "He's a big-body guy that can skate and he gets involved. When you do that, I think it's going to be a good combination."        

McGinn is looking forward to getting back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2014 when he was with the Avalanche.

"I really enjoyed my time in Buffalo, but at the end of the day I want to win a Stanley Cup and I have a good opportunity of doing that here," he said. "I'm just thrilled about it, it's pure excitement. To play meaningful hockey, it's a different animal. Once you get to playoffs, it's what you dream about growing up as a kid and I'm looking forward to the challenge here."

Here are the projected lineups:

DUCKS

David Perron - Ryan Getzlaf - Nick Ritchie

Jamie McGinn - Rickard Rakell - Corey Perry

Andrew Cogliano - Ryan Kesler - Jakob Silfverberg

Ryan Garbutt - Nate Thompson - Mike Santorelli

Cam Fowler - Kevin Bieksa

Hampus Lindholm - Josh Manson

Simon Despres - Sami Vatanen

John Gibson

Frederik Andersen

Injured: Brandon Pirri (ankle), Chris Stewart (jaw)

Scratched: Korbinian Holzer, Clayton Stoner

Suspended: Shawn Horcoff

AVALANCHE

Mikhail Grigorenko - Matt Duchene - Jarome Iginla

Mikkel Boedker - Nathan MacKinnon - Blake Comeau

Shawn Matthias - Carl Soderberg - Gabriel Landeskog

Cody McLeod - John Mitchell - Jack Skille

Francois Beauchemin - Erik Johnson

Nick Holden - Tyson Barrie

Eric Gelinas - Zach Redmond or Andrew Bodnarchuk

Semyon Varlamov

Calvin Pickard

Injured: Chris Bigras (concussion), Ben Street (chest), Brad Stuart (back surgery), Jesse Winchester (head)

Scratched: Bodnarchuk or Redmond, Andreas Martinsen

Status report: Horcoff will complete his 20-game suspension Wednesday for violating the terms of the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program, and will be eligible to play Friday against the St. Louis Blues. "He'll give us another option to go to, another player with experience, and that's important coming down the stretch," Boudreau said ... Redmond took part in the morning skate and will test his lower-body injury in the pregame warmup. "The plan for now is to try and play," he said.

Who's hot: Getzlaf has six goals and 12 assists in the past 14 games ... Vatanen has one goal and six assists in seven games ... Fowler has one goal and four assists in six games ... Duchene has two goals and two assists in four games.

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