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Ducks start six-game trip at Colorado

by Mike Battaglino

DUCKS (6-1-1) at AVALANCHE (4-5-0)


Season series: This is the first meeting of the season. The Avalanche went 3-1-0 against the Ducks last season after losing six straight and 15 of 17 to Anaheim.

"They're young, they're energetic, and they gave us a heap of trouble last year," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau told the team's website Tuesday. "I expect the same kind of game from them tomorrow as they've been doing all year."

Big story: Anaheim sits fourth in the Western Conference (second in the Pacific Division) with its best start since going 6-0-2 and 12-0-4 to open 2006-07, when it won the Stanley Cup. Last season, the Ducks were 4-1-0 before losing 16 of the next 18.

Colorado lost for the first time at home, 3-2 against the Dallas Stars on Monday, after opening 3-0-0 (with a 10-2 goal differential) at Pepsi Center. This is the third of a four-game homestand.

Team Scope:

Ducks: Anaheim has won three in a row and is 4-0-1 after handing the San Jose Sharks their first regulation loss, 2-1 on Monday. This game begins a road trip of six games in 11 days that includes two back-to-back sets.

"I think it's both good, in that we've played pretty well, and, I don't know if this is the right word … apprehensive, because it's six tough games in a short season," Boudreau said. "You've got to worry about it.

"When you play Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Dallas, Colorado, Nashville, it's a tough grind. It's nothing that we're going in there thinking we're all that. We've gotten to where we are through hard work and tenacity. So we have to do the same thing to scratch out a win every game."

Goalie Viktor Fasth, a 30-year-old NHL rookie from Sweden, won Monday's game and is unbeaten in his three starts, allowing four goals. He has been helped by a defense that has killed 14 of 16 penalties after allowing goals on 7 of 16 in the first three games.

"Playing the Avs … they rely on their scoring a lot to win them games," Daniel Winnik said. "With a good defense we should do well. And, as always, special teams will be key."

Avalanche: Injuries continue to alter what Colorado can do at the start of the season. To help, the Avalanche claimed forward Aaron Palushaj off waivers from the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.

Palushaj, 23, could play Wednesday if he passes his physical, according to the Denver Post.

"He's a guy that's put up some good numbers in college and in the American [Hockey] League, but hasn't had a real good opportunity yet in the [NHL]," coach Joe Sacco told the newspaper. "With the adversity we're facing right with some injuries, he gives us some more depth up front."

The Avalanche are without captain Gabriel Landeskog, who suffered a head injury playing against the San Jose Sharks on Jan. 26, and unsigned free agent Ryan O'Reilly. They likely will get back David Jones, who missed two games with a knee injury. On the blue line, the team is without Ryan Wilson (ankle) and possibly Erik Johnson (foot).

"With the shortened season, we thought we'd be facing some injuries, but it's a little bit more than I had hoped for," Sacco said. "Some other teams are going through similar situations, but maybe not quite to the extent that we are."

The Post reports Semyon Varlamov will start in goal for the ninth time in 10 games over former Ducks netminder Jean-Sebastian Giguere.

Who's hot: Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf has a four-game point streak. Forward Bobby Ryan had a four-game point streak (two goals, five assists) snapped Monday. Center Saku Koivu has nine points in eight games. Defenseman Sheldon Souray has scored in back-to-back games. Forward Nick Bonino had hat trick and an assist in Saturday's 7-4 win against the Los Angeles Kings. … Avalanche forward Paul Stastny had two assists Monday and has three goals and five points in his past three games. Forward PA Parenteau scored his fourth goal in three games and has a team-high seven.

Injury report: Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler is out with an upper-body injury. … Wilson is out indefinitely. Landeskog skated on Sunday. Jones practiced Tuesday, but Johnson did not skate.

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