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Ducks have two key points on line vs. Avalanche

by Brian Hunter
AVALANCHE (28-38-8) at DUCKS (42-28-5)


Last 10:
Colorado 2-8-0; Anaheim 7-3-0

Season series: Fourth and final meeting of the season. The Ducks will be aiming for the season sweep, having won their previous three games against the Avalanche by a 12-4 margin. Corey Perry leads all scorers with 4 goals, including a pair of game-winners. Dan Ellis has beaten Colorado three times this season, twice since coming over to Anaheim.

Big story: With only one other game Monday, there won't be any need to scoreboard watch as far as Anaheim is concerned. The eighth-place Blackhawks are also in action against the Red Wings, but if the Ducks can take care of business against the Avalanche they will retain the seventh seed while closing to within a point of the Kings and Predators, who are tied for fifth, and move four points in front of the ninth-place Flames and five ahead of the 10th-place Stars.

Team Scope:

It's another opportunity to play spoiler for Colorado, which hasn't beaten a team currently occupying a playoff spot since topping Vancouver 4-3 in overtime all the way back on Jan. 18. The Avalanche are 4-22-2 over the ensuing 28 games, with two wins over St. Louis and one apiece against Edmonton and Columbus. They fell 4-1 to the Kings on Saturday, although the goal was Milan Hejduk's 20th and marked the 11th straight season he's reached that plateau, tying Joe Sakic's franchise record.

"It was a great effort by Matt (Duchene) on the forecheck behind the net," Hejduk told the Denver Post. "Paulie (Paul Stastny) got the puck and found me in front of the net, and I had an easy job to do there.

"But the bottom line is that this is a team sport, and it's hard to enjoy any personal accomplishments. That's the same with me right now. It's hard to enjoy this. Really hard."

Ducks: This is the only stop home at the Honda Center in a span of six games for Anaheim, which just completed a three-game road trip and will head back out for games in Calgary and San Jose later this week. The Ducks split the first two games on the road against the Stars and Predators before capturing the rubber game Saturday with a 2-1 win over the Blackhawks. Perry, who is meriting Hart Trophy consideration with his white-hot play, erased a one-goal deficit heading into the third by scoring at 1:07 and 15:30, and Ray Emery improved to 4-0 with a 27-save effort.

"We're playing together and playing as a line, and that's huge," Perry said of his unit with Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan, who drew the assists on both his goals. "Early on in the season we were here, we were there and just missing. Now finally we've got that chemistry and we're rolling with it."

Who's hot:
Matt Duchene was held off the board against the Kings, but had a six-game points streak for the Avalanche prior to that, registering 5 goals and 4 assists. … Perry has 8 goals and 2 assists during a five-game points streak for the Ducks. He has 13 goals in his last nine games. Getzlaf has 1 goal and 10 assists during a four-game points streak. Teemu Selanne has 4 goals in as many games. Emery has a 1.39 goals-against average and .952 save percentage since his call-up.

Injury report:
Colorado defenseman Adam Foote is unlikely to play with a foot injury, while defenseman Ryan Wilson (knee) and forward Mark Olver (head) are also day-to-day.

Stat pack:
Colorado needs two more wins to avoid finishing with fewer than 30 for the first time since 1991-92 when the franchise was still in Quebec and posted a 20-48-12 record. … Perry has 7 goals and 9 assists in his last nine games against the Avalanche.

Puck drop: Anaheim currently has three goalies with Jonas Hiller back in the fold, but he lasted less than 12 minutes against Nashville in his return Thursday, yielding three goals on nine shots before being replaced by Ellis. Meanwhile, Emery is stating his claim to get the bulk of the workload down the stretch.

"You have to credit Ray with his will to get back and become an NHL goalie again," coach Randy Carlyle told the Orange County Register last week. "He's been a good solider here, worked hard. He hasn't said a word one way or the other. He's fit in seamlessly with our group. We're looking for that to continue."

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