AVALANCHE (13-6-3) at CANUCKS (11-10-0)
Last 10 --
Colorado 4-5-1; Vancouver 5-5-0
Season series --
This is the fourth meeting already this season and second in less than a week for the Canucks and the Avalanche, with Vancouver earning a big 8-2 win over Colorado on Nov. 14. The Canucks grabbed a 3-0 win on Nov. 1, while the Avs took the first meeting, 3-0. They won't face each other again until March 9.
Big story --
Vancouver more or less rolled over the Avalanche in Denver last Saturday in their 8-2 win and having not played since then, will surely still be riding this high. The Canucks got four goals on both Craig Anderson and Peter Budaj, with center Henrik Sedin
collecting his first NHL hat trick.
"It's something to build on," Sedin said afterward. "We can go home and practice for a week before the next game. It's always nice to come off a game like this. It gives the guys confidence coming back home."
Since falling to the Canucks, the Avalanche played a pair of games. They rebounded with a 3-2 win over the Flames on Tuesday, but followed with a 6-4 loss to the Oilers on Wednesday. Colorado had carried a 4-2 lead for most of the second period, but the Oilers made a one-goal game just before the buzzer and would score another three goals in the third to take the win. The Avs have now lost four of their last five.
"When you have a 4-3 lead going into the third on the road, you have to find a way to win that game," coach Joe Sacco said. "Those are the ones you have to put away and we didn't do that."
The Canucks have had almost a week off between their two Colorado match-ups. The rest will certainly be welcomed by goalie Roberto Luongo
, who returned a little earlier than expected after being out for six games with a rib injury. The team captain was sharp against the Avs, however, making 32 saves for his first win since Oct. 25.
Who's hot --
Colorado right wing Milan Hejduk
has three goals in his last two games, including the game winner against Calgary on Tuesday. Hejduk also leads the Avs with 57 shots. Vancouver's Henrik Sedin
has quelled all speculation that he would be unable to score without twin brother Daniel. With his hat trick on Saturday, the center leads the Canucks in goals and assists for 23 points and has had seven points in his last six games.
Injury report --
The Avalanche are without defensmen Ruslan Salei (back) and John-Michael Liles (shoulder), as well as left wing T.J. Galiardi (ankle).
Canucks left wing Daniel Sedin
(broken foot) skated with the team this week and could make his return Sunday against the Blackhawks. Forward Michael Grabner (broken ankle) and Pavol Demitra (shoulder) are still on the injured reserve. Darcy Hordichuk is questionable for Friday.
Stat Pack --
Despite the lopsided score last week, the Avalanche actually outshot the Canucks 34-30. They've suffered a power outage when on the PP, going 5-for-58 in the past 16 games.
Puck drop --
The Canucks would seem to have a significant advantage in this matchup. Not only are they at home in Vancouver, but the Avalanche suffered a difficult loss on Thursday, while the Canucks are rested and still riding their big win last Saturday.