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Preview: Avs visit Hockeytown

by Staff Writer / Detroit Red Wings

DETROIT -- Their losing streak is over, but the Colorado Avalanche are still trying to break out of an offensive slump.

The Avalanche look to generate more scoring when they face the Red Wings, the NHL's best defensive team, at Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday.

Colorado (22-16-3) ended a four-game skid Saturday, beating the New York Islanders 2-1 in overtime. The Avs, though, failed to score more than twice for the fourth time in five games and fell to 0-for-16 on the power play over their last five contests.

"It's a tough stretch without scoring," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Finishing has been the tough part."

Breaking out of that funk against the league-leading Red Wings (32-8-3) won't be easy. Detroit's 2.02 goals allowed per game is the lowest mark in the NHL, and the Wings rank among the league leaders in penalty killing with an 86.4 percentage.

The Red Wings have killed off 25 straight power-play chances over seven games.

The Avalanche's offensive woes are due in part to the absence of captain Joe Sakic, who had hernia surgery and hasn't played since Nov. 30, and forward Ryan Smyth, who hasn't played since Monday because of a fractured right ankle.

In addition, Paul Stastny, who leads the team with 44 points, has just three assists in his last eight games. Linemate Milan Hejduk hasn't recorded a point in six games and Andrew Brunette has gone five games without a goal.

Still, the Avalanche enter this game with some momentum following Saturday's win, which helped them avoid their first five-game losing streak in nearly 10 years. Marek Svatos, who leads the team with 16 goals, scored the winner and has six goals in his last seven games.

"Every game, I play a lot and I am getting lots of opportunities," Svatos said. "So, my confidence is going up."

Colorado's 47 points halfway through the season are its most since it had 53 in 2003-04.

The Avalanche ended a four-game losing streak in Detroit in their last game there, a 4-3 overtime victory March 4. Colorado, however, is 3-9-2 in it last 14 games overall against the Red Wings.

Detroit has won three straight and seven of eight, including Sunday's 3-1 win in Chicago. Henrik Zetterberg, Dan Cleary and Mikael Samuelsson scored in the first period for the Red Wings, who have recorded at least three goals in all but two of their 32 wins.

"I thought we played a good game," coach Mike Babcock said. "We drove the net real hard in the first period and had some chances."

Zetterberg, who played his third game after missing five due to a back injury, has a point in each of his last eight games (five goals, eight assists).

"We played well in our own zone and picked off a lot of their passes in the slot. That might have been the key to the game," said Detroit's Chris Osgood, who made 19 saves and leads the league with a 1.68 goals-against average.

Along with the best overall record, Detroit owns the best home mark in the NHL at 17-3-1.

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