GAME: Washington Capitals (8-17-1-1) at Colorado Avalanche (15-7-3-1).
TIME: Monday, 9 p.m. EST.
The surging Colorado Avalanche look to move into sole possession of the top
spot in the Northwest Division when they face the last-place Washington
Capitals at the Pepsi Center.
Colorado pulled into a tie with Vancouver atop the division Saturday night
with a 5-1 rout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Backup goalie Phil Sauve stopped
35 shots and Joe Sakic had a goal and three assists as the Avs pushed their
unbeaten streak to 3-0-2.
The Avalanche were able to grab a share of first when the slumping Canucks
managed only a 1-1 tie with Minnesota on Saturday.
The play of Sauve was the highlight for the Avalanche, who are hoping their
backup to David Aebischer continues to emerge and give them two solid presences
"Sometimes you are not going to see him for a while," Avalanche coach Tony
Granato said of Sauve, who has played just twice since his first NHL win on
Nov. 6. "When David is going well the way he has been, you might not see Phil
but once every three weeks. That is tough to do. Obviously, he adjusted to that
role and he played extremely well."
Aebischer, 8-1-2 in his past 11 games, is likely to return to the net
Sakic scored his ninth goal and has 11 points in six games, and Derek Morris
added a goal and two assists for the Avs.
Colorado, though, continued to suffer from the injury bug, as star winger
Milan Hejduk left in the second period with a slight groin pull and didn't
return. His status for Monday's contest is uncertain.
The Avalanche did get back defenseman Adam Foote after he missed one game
with the flu.
After facing the Capitals in Denver, the Avs play five of their next six
games on the road, where they are 7-2-1-1 this season.
The Capitals lost their second in a row Saturday in demoralizing fashion,
7-3 to Los Angeles. Ziggy Palffy and Michael Cammalleri each scored two goals
as the Kings chased Olaf Kolzig with almost eight minutes remaining after
building a 6-3 lead.
The defeat was even more ugly considering the Caps built a 2-0 lead on
first-period goals by Sergei Gonchar and Robert Lang. The Kings responded with
four straight goals in just under seven minutes.
"We had a 2-0 lead on the road, and I think we should protect it better,"
Bondra said. "We made some mistakes. When you don't have the confidence in the
way you're playing, you don't believe in yourself."
The Capitals are completing a five-game road trip.