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Red Wings set to host Avalanche

by Deborah Francisco

AVALANCHE (8-8-4) at RED WINGS (10-8-4)


Last 10: Colorado 4-2-4, Detroit 3-4-3

Season series: This will be the first of three games played between these Western Conference rivals. Last season, they split a four-game season series with Colorado winning the last two meetings.

Big story: The two points up for grabs in Tuesday night’s tilt at the Joe Louis Arena could make a big impact in the Western Conference standings considering the log jam of teams in the West. Detroit currently sits in the eighth spot with 24 points. Colorado, with just two fewer points, holds the 13th spot.

“[The Avalanche] really are not all that far off,” Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard told the Red Wings’ official website. “They’re all grouped together from fourth all the way to last, so it’s tight and going to continue to be that way all the way to the end of the season. You just have to find a way every single night to get points.”

Team Scope:

Avalanche: Colorado is hoping to bounce back from Sunday’s frustrating 2-1 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Additionally, the Avalanche have won just one game in their last five.

Sunday’s contest was the first appearance of Ryan O’Reilly, who led the Avalanche in scoring last season. Colorado matched an offer sheet for O’Reilly during the first period of Thursday’s game against the Calgary Flames – who made the offer -- and the forward joined Colorado on its three-game road trip.

Colorado allowed two power-play goals in the 2-1 loss to Columbus.

"We shouldn't leave it up to the referees to put us in that position," Joe Sacco told the Denver Post. "We weren't skating as well as we have been. We didn't have jump. We didn't go in on the forecheck hard. Can't leave it in the referees’ hands. We should have put it in our own hands."

Red Wings: The Red Wings were within minutes of defeating the National Hockey League’s best team when Chicago’s Patrick Kane tied the game with 2:02 left in regulation. Kane then scored the shootout winner that extended the Blackhawks’ point-streak to 22 games. The Red Wings are 2-1 in shootouts so far this season.

Johan Franzen nearly ended Sunday’s thrilling game in overtime, but his shot clanged off the post.

"It's just the breaks, it's tough to swallow, but at the same time they're a good team," Howard said. "It's impressive. They're finding different ways to do it every single night. It's just two minutes there. Wish we could have gotten them."

Who's hot: Henrik Zetterberg is amongst the top 10 players in the League for points earned this season with 25 (six goals, 19 assists) and he is ranked third overall for assists, although he has been scoreless in his last three outings after notching a three-point performance against the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 24.

Injury report: Colorado is without defensemen Erik Johnson (head) and Ryan Wilson (ankle) as well as forward Steve Downie (knee), who is out for the remainder of the season. … Detroit’s Valtteri Filppula (shoulder) returned to the ice Monday after missing the last two weeks, but he is not expected to play anytime soon. Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) has been out since Jan. 21 and is awaiting clearance to return. The Red Wings are also without Todd Bertuzzi (back), Darren Helm (back) and Mikael Samuelsson (hand).

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