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Preview: Canucks at Avalanche

Vancouver goaltender Ryan Miller can tie Rogie Vachon with 355th NHL win; Colorado center Matt Duchene returns

by Rick Sadowski / Correspondent

CANUCKS (22-20-6) at AVALANCHE (13-30-2)

TV: 9:30 p.m. ET; SN360, SNP, ALT, NHL.TV


Canucks team scope

Goaltender Ryan Miller is expected to start for the Vancouver Canucks, 8-2-3 in their past 13 games and one point behind the Calgary Flames for the second wild card from the Western Conference into the Stanley Cup Playoffs with three games in hand. Miller is 7-1-2 in his past 10 starts with 17 goals allowed. He had 31 saves Sunday in a 4-2 loss at the Chicago Blackhawks. Miller remains one win from tying Rogie Vachon (355) for 19th place on the NHL all-time list. Defenseman Alexander Edler sustained an upper-body injury Sunday, but ook part in an optional morning skate Wednesday and said he will play against the Colorado Avalanche. "We're expecting a tight game," Edler said. "We're in a position where we really need the points. We're focusing a lot on playing good defensively, and that usually creates things offensively. This whole stretch now, the second half of the season, is so important." The Canucks run follows a 2-5-1 stretch. "We've all been on the same page since then," Edler said, "playing the way we should play, five guys together all over the ice."


Avalanche team scope

Center Matt Duchene said he expects to return to the Avalanche lineup after he missed a 5-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Monday because of a stomach virus. "I'm in tonight," he said. "I physically couldn't play the other night. I came to the rink, saw the doc and he said, 'No way.' Things just got worse. It was the better part of four days for me feeling terrible." Forward Jim O'Brien was recalled from San Antonio of the American Hockey League as a precaution because the Avalanche were short one forward against the Sharks, but he is not expected to play Wednesday. Goaltender Calvin Pickard will start after dressing as Spencer Martin's backup the past two games. The Avalanche have lost six consecutive games (0-5-1) and are 2-15-1 in their past 18 games, including 1-13-1 in their past 15 home games. "The motivation has to be just to get better," forward Jarome Iginla said, "to develop as a team and also personally to grow -- especially for the young guys to take a lot from this, learn a lot from this, take the long view." Defenseman Francois Beauchemin will play his 800th NHL game.


Canucks projected lineup

Daniel Sedin -- Henrik Sedin -- Loui Eriksson

Sven Baertschi -- Bo Horvat -- Alexandre Burrows

Markus Granlund -- Brandon Sutter -- Jayson Megna

Brendan Gaunce -- Michael Chaput -- Jack Skille

Alexander Edler -- Troy Stecher

Luca Sbisa -- Chris Tanev

Nikita Tryamkin -- Alex Biega

Ryan Miller

Jacob Markstrom

Scratched: Reid Boucher, Jordan Subban

Injured: Derek Dorsett (neck), Erik Gudbranson (wrist), Jannik Hansen (knee), Ben Hutton (hand), Philip Larsen (concussion), Anton Rodin(knee)


Avalanche projected lineup

Mikhail Grigorenko -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Mikko Rantanen

Gabriel Landeskog -- Matt Duchene -- Matt Nieto

Andreas Martinsen -- Carl Soderberg -- Blake Comeau

Joe Colborne -- John Mitchell -- Jarome Iginla

Fedor Tyutin -- Nikita Zadorov

Francois Beauchemin -- Cody Goloubef

Patrick Wiercioch -- Eric Gelinas

Calvin Pickard

Spencer Martin

Scratched: Jim O'Brien

Injured: Tyson Barrie (lower body), Rene Bourque (lower body), Erik Johnson (broken fibula), Semyon Varlamov (groin)


Status report

Barrie and Bourque were placed on injured reserve Tuesday. They're expected to be available next Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.


Who's hot

Henrik Sedin has five points (two goals, three assists) in a five-game point streak. ... MacKinnon has seven points (two goals, five assists) in his past seven games. … Duchene has four points (two goals, two assists) in his past four games.

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