Flames-Avalanche Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 28, 2013
Despite a winless road trip, the Colorado Avalanche remain positive they can carry over the progress they made into their brief stop at home. The Calgary Flames, meanwhile, know they need a much better effort than their last time out. Colorado hopes to have Matt Duchene back from injury as it seeks a fourth consecutive victory over visiting Calgary on Thursday night. The Avalanche finished 0-1-2 on their trip after a 3-2 shootout loss to San Jose on Tuesday, though coach Joe Sacco lauded his team's determination after Mark Olver scored the tying goal with just over three minutes left in regulation. "I like the fact we show some resiliency after falling behind twice,'' Sacco said. "That was a big point for us.'' Though victories would have been much more beneficial for a team that sits near the bottom of the Western Conference standings, Colorado (7-8-3) still was able to pick up points that could be important in a shortened season - something it had trouble accomplishing at the start. "We're getting points and getting games to overtime and giving ourselves a chance," captain Gabriel Landeskog said. "At the start of the year we would lose games toward the end and lose at least the one point, so I think that's a step forward." Duchene, who has a team-high 17 points, sat out Tuesday's contest with a groin injury. He didn't participate in Wednesday's optional practice and is considered a game-time decision for this contest, which is the team's only home game before heading on the road for three more. The Avalanche are 5-2-1 at the Pepsi Center, including two straight wins. "We've been playing well at home and we've got to keep that going," said rookie forward Patrick Bordeleau, who recorded his first career point with an assist Tuesday. "We need to have a good start." Colorado started slowly but finished with a flurry in the first meeting with the Flames, scoring three unanswered third-period goals in a 6-3 victory Jan. 31. John Mitchell, P.A. Parenteau and Paul Stastny each scored twice and Duchene has two assists, while former Avalanche winger Alex Tanguay scored for Calgary. Tanguay, who spent his first six seasons with Colorado from 1999-2006, scored the Flames' lone goal in a 2-1 overtime loss at Minnesota on Tuesday - the only power-play goal in 17 chances over the last five games for Calgary (7-7-4). "When you waste nine minutes of power play without even getting a shot on net, you don't deserve to win,'' coach Bob Hartley said. It likely won't get any easier Thursday, as Colorado has killed off 33 of 35 short-handed chances at home to rank among the league's best. "It will be a test," defenseman Dennis Wideman told the Flames' official website. "They're a team that works hard, so we're going to have to be ready and we're going to have to support each other." Captain Jarome Iginla's three-game point streak game to an end Tuesday for the Flames, who had won their previous two. "You never want to say you didn't work hard enough, but we got out-worked,'' Iginla said. Semyon Varlamov, who has stopped 69 of 71 shots while winning his last two starts versus the Flames, will be in net for Colorado, while Joey MacDonald could make his fifth consecutive start for Calgary as Miikka Kiprusoff remains out with a sprained MCL.
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