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Ducks start trip in Colorado

by Deborah Francisco
DUCKS (28-21-4) AT AVALANCHE (25-20-6)


Last 10 -- Anaheim 7-3-0; Colorado 4-5-1

Season series -- Amazingly for two teams in the same conference, this is the first meeting of four between Anaheim and Colorado this season. The Ducks took three out of four last season including two 5-2 victories at Colorado. Jason Blake had four assists in their last meeting on March. 31, 2010 and Saku Koivu notched a goal and three assists.

Big story -- Although Colorado has dropped to 12th place in the Western Conference standings with two losses in a row, they trail sixth-place Anaheim by just four points, making this game all the more important for both squads. Anaheim has won four of its last six games, but lost 4-3 at home to San Jose on Wednesday in its last game at the Honda Center before a four-game trip.

Team Scope:

Ducks -- The loss to the Sharks was just the fourth for the Ducks in their last 14 games. The Ducks were twice down by three goals, but managed to get within one in the third period after a brilliant Bobby Ryan wrister beat Antti Niemi at 5:36. However, they couldn't get the equalizer.

"When we scored there in the third, the whole momentum shifted," Ryan said. "We controlled the play for the better part of the third. They did a good job. They held onto a lead that they should have."

Jonas Hiller made only seven saves in the first period but allowed three goals before the Ducks swapped him out with Curtis McElhinney who stopped 17 shots in the remainder of the contest. Hiller will not play in Saturday night's contest due to fatigue and light-headedness.

Avalanche -- Colorado has hit a rough patch, dropping four out of its last five home games including Thursday's 4-3 loss to the Wild in which Colorado gave up two goals in the first 1:01.

"It's pretty much a nightmare start," Milan Hejduk said. "I don't know what more you could ask for. It was a terrible start, then we battled back and we outshot them the rest of the first period. The second and third we tried hard but came up short."

Hejduk notched Colorado's first two goals to get the Avs within one, but Minnesota answered each time. The Avs know they have to start stronger then they did on Thursday.

"We've just got to look past (this loss)," Kevin Porter said. "This game is done; it's over with. We've got to look forward to Anaheim and we've got to come out the first couple minutes and play like we did at the end of this game."

Injury report -- The Ducks said Friday that Hiller will sit out as a precaution due to dizziness and light- headedness. Captain Ryan Getzlaf is still recuperating from facial factures. ...The Avs have lost Tomas Fleischmann (pulmonary emboli) and Kyle Quincey (shoulder) for the season, and Peter Mueller (concussion) hasn't played all season. Ryan O'Reilly (shoulder) and David Jones (shoulder) are day-to-day.

Who's hot -- Corey Perry leads the Ducks in scoring this season with 53 points (25 goals, 28 assists); he had two assists against the Sharks. …. Hejduk is on pace for one of his highest-scoring seasons with 44 points so far (17G-27A)… His career high was 98 points (50G-48A) with the Avalanche in the 2002-2003. He scored two goals in his last game and his 27 assists this season are a team best.

Stat pack - The Ducks currently boast the second best power play percent in the league at 24.3.

Puck drop - Colorado fans are waiting on edge to hear if former fan favorite Peter Forsberg will return to the NHL and to the Avalanche. Forsberg has skated with Colorado in the team's last four practices and said Friday he felt good and was optimistic about making a decision soon. The Avs play four games on the road next week

""We're near a decision here," Forsberg said after skating at Friday's practice. "We're very near a decision here."

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