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Ducks look to keep up success against Avalanche

by Dan Rosen
DUCKS (36-26-5) at AVALANCHE (26-32-8)


Last 10:
 Anaheim 4-5-1; Colorado 1-7-2

Season series: Anaheim won the first two meetings of the season. The Ducks and Avalanche will play again on March 28.

Big story:
 The Ducks need to keep pace in a Western Conference playoff race that is only getting tighter as the days tick off the calendar to April 10, the final day of the regular season. Colorado, which once envisioned competing for a playoff spot, is now in the running for the No. 1 pick in the 2011 Entry Draft.

Team Scope:

Ducks: They've won four out of five with the lone blemish a 3-0 loss to Vancouver. Anaheim is coming off a sound 5-2 win over the Rangers on Wednesday night thanks to two goals apiece by Corey Perry and Lubomir Visnovsky and a four-point night for Bobby Ryan. Dan Ellis has been making the starts in net with Jonas Hiller sidelined with vertigo issues. Hiller told the Orange County Register he is still trying to figure out what is causing the vertigo, so until then Ellis will serve as the No. 1 with Ray Emery as his backup. Emery has not played yet. With three games in five days it is possible that Emery gets in soon. Ellis has started six straight games.

"We think and we've thought this for a while, that he can come in and back up," coach Randy Carlyle told the Orange County Register. "So the next step for him is if we can find the right environment, the right setting, the right situations that we feel comfortable (with) and he'll give us the best chance for success. Then he will go in the net."

 Colorado hasn't won since Feb. 22 and that was its lone win since the All-Star break (1-13-2). The Avalanche got a point in a shootout loss to San Jose on March 1, but are coming off back-to-back losses in which they gave up five goals each, to Edmonton and Minnesota, respectively. They hit the road for four in a row after Friday's game. Colorado is currently 27th in the NHL with 60 points, six more than the Edmonton Oilers and five better than the Ottawa Senators. That being said, the Avalanche were trying to find the positives in a 5-2 loss to the Wild on Tuesday.

"I know there's no consolation for the loss, but for two and a half periods, I thought we played well, we played smart," coach Joe Sacco told the Denver Post. "The way the puck is bouncing for us right now, they get a goal, then they get another one, and we put ourselves behind the eight ball there. The results aren't satisfying, but the game itself was."

Who's hot: Ryan had a goal and 3 assists in Wednesday's win over the Rangers. He has 19 points in 15 games since the All-Star break. With 2 goals in Wednesday's win, Visnovsky became the first defenseman in club history to record five goals in a three-game span. He also had a hat trick March 4 against Dallas.

Injury report:
 Hiller remains out with vertigo symptoms, while Anaheim center Jason Blake has missed three straight games with a hand injury.

Stat pack:
 Anaheim's top line of Ryan, Perry and Ryan Getzlaf was a combined plus-10 in the win over the Rangers. Ellis is 4-1-1 with a 2.26 goals-against average and .911 save percentage since being traded to Anaheim. Perry's 2 goals Wednesday night gave him a new career high of 33 this season.

Puck drop:
 "There's going to be a lot of jockeying for position here down the stretch," Ryan told the Orange County Register. "I think the team's excited for it."

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