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Ducks-Avalanche Preview @NHLdotcom

Pacific Division-leading Anaheim is hardly playing like a top contender in the Western Conference. Neither are the Ducks' next three opponents, but they haven't all season.

After consecutive losses, the Ducks open a stretch of four games against three of the worst teams in the West when they visit the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday.

Anaheim (33-15-8) is third in the conference with 74 points, but is 3-6-1 since Jan. 13.

The Ducks, who opened a four-game road trip with a 1-0 loss to Dallas on Saturday, have a good chance to bounce back over the next four games.

The stretch begins with Tuesday's matchup with the Avalanche (26-25-4), who have lost two straight and are 10 points behind in the playoff race.

Anaheim then faces Phoenix on Thursday before a home-and-home series with Los Angeles. The Coyotes have lost two straight and are in 12th place in the West, while the Kings are last and have dropped 12 of 15.

"Every game is going to be like a playoff game from here on out," Ducks defenseman Chris Pronger said. "Every team we play is going to try to prove something or achieve something against us."

Anaheim, though, has lost its two games against Colorado this season in 3-2 shootout losses, and has dropped five of its last six against the Avalanche.

The Ducks failed to convert on all six power-play chances Saturday, making it 0-for-16 with the man advantage in the past four games. They've been shut out twice in that stretch.

"We have not executed to the level we're capable of, specifically on the power play," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. "We need to get more desperate."

The Ducks have the NHL's third-ranked power-play unit, scoring on 20.7 percent of their opportunities. They are 1-for-8 (12.5 percent) against the Avalanche this season.

A matchup with Colorado, however, may help Anaheim end its scoring woes. The Avalanche have given up 13 goals in their last two games.

Colorado fell 7-5 to the Stars on Sunday, its fourth loss in five games.

The Avalanche have had to battle back from early deficits in its last two contests, falling behind 3-0 on Sunday after Atlanta scored the first four goals in the Avalanche's 6-3 loss Thursday night.

"We've been slow-starting and then playing catch-up," Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said. "We're having hesitation. We talked about getting momentum early."

Rookies Paul Stastny and Wojtek Wolski scored 49 seconds apart midway through the second period Sunday to get the Avalanche within 4-3. Stastny has three goals and six points in his last four games, while Wolski has two goals in his last three contests.

Colorado forward Marek Svatos has scored only two goals since Dec. 1, and has one point - a goal against Minnesota on Feb. 1 - in his last 12 games. He has only 11 goals in 50 games after scoring 32 in 61 contests in 2005-06, when he finished tied with Joe Sakic for the team lead despite missing the last 20 games with a shoulder injury.

Sakic, meanwhile, has three goals in his last four games and is two shy of becoming the 17th player in NHL history to reach 600. He has three goals and 10 points in his last seven games against Anaheim.

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