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Mighty Ducks- Preview @NHL
Mighty Ducks- Preview

GAME: Anaheim Mighty Ducks (7-5-1) at Colorado Avalanche (6-4-1).

TIME: Thursday, 9 p.m. EST.

After the free-agent defection of All-Star Peter Forsberg to Philadelphia, the Colorado Avalanche were supposed to have trouble scoring goals this season.

So far, it's been quite the opposite.

The Avalanche look to continue their offensive success as they host the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.

Without Forsberg, the Avalanche's fifth all-time leading scorer with 198 goals, many experts predicted Colorado would struggle to score. However, 11 games into the season only Detroit (51) has more goals than Colorado's 49.

In addition, the Avalanche's average of 4.45 goals per game is the highest through the first 11 games since the team moved to Denver in 1995.

"I mean, you probably won't get four or five goals every single night," Avalanche captain Joe Sakic said. "But there's a lot of depth on this club. We like our four lines. Every one of them can put the puck in the net."

The offense is coming from unlikely places, as the team's leading scorer is defenseman John-Michael Liles, who has 14 points.

"I don't know that it's necessarily surprising we're scoring this many goals," said Liles, who ranks third in the league in scoring among defensemen. "We have a lot of tremendous players on this team."

Anaheim's Teemu Selanne and Andy McDonald are also off to fast starts offensively as each contributed to a 4-1 win over Nashville on Tuesday night.

McDonald scored his sixth goal in six games and Selanne had two assists for the Ducks, who won their fourth straight.

"Andy's a dynamic small player who's very exciting to watch, and now he's getting a few things go his way," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "He's getting an opportunity to play with Selanne, and those guys seem to have something going."

The pair have combined for 17 goals and 26 points in 13 games.

STANDINGS (through Nov. 2): Mighty Ducks - 15 points, 2nd place (tied), 3 PB, Pacific Division. Avalanche - 13 points, 3rd place (tied), 6 PB, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Mighty Ducks - Selanne, 9 goals and 16 points; Rob Niedermayer, 8 assists; Kip Brennan, 35 PIM. Avalanche - Marek Svatos and Patrice Brisebois, 5 goals; Liles, 10 assists and 14 points; Ian Laperriere, 29 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 2): Mighty Ducks - Power play: 18.8 percent (16 for 85), 13th in NHL. Penalty killing: 79.1 percent (76 for 96), 23rd. Avalanche - Power play: 23.6 percent (18 for 76), 3rd. Penalty killing: 87.6 percent (64 for 73), 5th.

GOALTENDERS: Mighty Ducks - Jean-Sebastien Giguere (6-2-1, 0 SO, 2.55 GAA); Ilya Bryzgalov (1-3-0, 0, 3.06). Avalanche - David Aebischer (5-3-0, 0, 3.26); Peter Budaj (1-1-1, 0, 2.95).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: 2-0-1.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 31, 2004; Mighty Ducks, 4-3, overtime. At Anaheim, Sergei Fedorov scored the tying goal with 46 seconds left in the third period and assisted on the winner by Niclas Havelid in overtime.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Mighty Ducks - 1-4-0 on the road; Avalanche - 4-2-0 at home.

Associated Press
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