March madness is in full swing for the Colorado Avalanche
and Anaheim Ducks
, who meet at the Pepsi Center tonight.
Only 12 games remain on the schedule for the Avalanche, who sit 10th in the Western Conference but are tied with eighth-place Calgary and ninth-place Los Angeles with 76 points. The Ducks have 13 games to play, but they are in 12th place with 68 points and have a much tougher road ahead.
It won't help the Ducks' cause if right wing Corey Perry
doesn't play. Perry, who won the Hart Trophy last season and leads the Ducks with 34 goals, hurt his right shoulder in Saturday's 2-0 loss to Dallas and is questionable for tonight. Perry didn't take part in this morning's skate.
Perry was injured when he was ridden into the boards by Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas
while losing his balance. Perry attempted to return to the game but the pain was too severe.
"He's got a lot of character," said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau
, who felt Robidas should have been assessed more than a minor penalty. "(Perry) has a lot of gumption and a lot of everything else that's positive. He just couldn't go."
If Perry is scratched, he would be replaced by Kyle Palmieri
, who has been summoned from Syracuse in the American Hockey League. Palmieri, 21, had 1 goal in 11 games with the Ducks earlier this season and leads the AHL with 32 goals in 42 games.
While Perry's consecutive games played streak (272 games) is in jeopardy, Ducks center Saku Koivu
will play in his 1,000th NHL game.
"Very impressive," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said of Koivu. "I think anybody that can play 1,000 games in this League, there's a lot to be said for that. You have to be durable, you have to be consistent. Even a guy like Koivu, who went through some battles during his career, to be able to come through that and be able to finish off with 1,000 games, is very impressive. Any player in this League that can hang around that long is doing something right."
Ducks right wing Teemu Selanne
could reach a milestone as well. With 1,398 points, he is tied with fellow Finn and Hall of Famer Jari Kurri
for 19th place on the NHL's all-time list.
"It's very special," Selanne said. "I could never imagine having as many points as Jari Kurri
. It's a big honor. He was my idol growing up. His picture was on my wall and everything."
The Avalanche won two of the three previous meetings with the Ducks, taking a 4-1 decision in the most recent game, Feb. 27 at the Pepsi Center. Colorado hasn't won a season series from Anaheim since 2006-07.
"There is an eight-point cushion now with a chance to make it 10," Sacco said, referring to his team's lead over the Ducks. "If you don't (win), it could be six points and you give them hope again. I certainly believe that they believe they still have a strong chance to get in there if they put some wins together. It'll be our job tonight to discourage those chances."
Despite the pressure to win every night, Sacco said this should be a fun time for players.
"This is why you play, to have an opportunity to get into the postseason," he said. "We're right in the thick of things with a handful of other teams. I think it's easy to keep that intensity and that level up to where it should be. We're a young team, we should have good legs and we should be excited about where we're at right now, an opportunity to get into the dance. That's the biggest thing, just to get there."
The Avalanche won't know until game time if rookie left wing Gabriel Landeskog
will be able to play. He was ill this morning and didn't skate.