Kings-Avalanche Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 22, 2012
The Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings are sputtering in the Western Conference playoff race. The Avalanche have made the first move to begin trying to change that, and another meeting with the Kings may prove beneficial. With Steve Downie expected to make his team debut, the Avalanche look to complete their first season sweep of Los Angeles in 19 years Wednesday night at Pepsi Center. Colorado (29-27-4) is 11th in the West, four points back of the Kings (27-21-12) for the eighth and final postseason position. Both clubs, however, are enduring rough stretches to improve their respective positions. The Avalanche are 3-6-2 since a 3-1 victory at Los Angeles on Jan. 21. The Kings followed that meeting with a pair of victories, but then went on to drop seven of the next nine (2-5-2) after blowing a three-goal, first-period lead to fall 5-4 in a shootout at Phoenix on Tuesday. Colorado, though, feels it's made a move to improve its postseason chances, acquiring Downie from Tampa Bay in a deal that sent defenseman Kyle Quincey to Detroit. Downie had 12 goals and 16 assists while compiling a minus-15 rating for the Lightning. The right wing is also known for his toughness, collecting 500 penalty minutes over the past three seasons to rank second to only Ottawa's Zenon Konopka (740) in that span. "Our organization believes that Steve Downie will add grit and skill to our lineup offensively," general manager Greg Sherman said in a statement. "He plays the game with an edge, and we look forward to seeing the immediate and future impact he can bring to our team." Colorado is returning home after enduring a 1-2-1 road trip, capped by Sunday's 5-1 loss at Winnipeg. "It's a big loss this time of the year," said center Matt Duchene, who didn't get a point in his return to the lineup after missing 20 games because of a knee injury. Having Duchene continue to move past his injury may also provide a spark. He has 12 goals and 12 assists after setting career highs with 27 and 40, respectively, last season. Duchene scored the eventual winner early in the third period of a 3-2 victory over the Kings in Denver on Oct. 30. Colorado has won both meetings since, putting the club on the brink of sweeping the season series for the first time since it won both matchups in 1992-93 as the Quebec Nordiques. Los Angeles is trying to avoid a four-game slide for the first time since a season-high five-game skid from Dec. 3-13. Re-establishing its success on the penalty kill could go a long way in doing that. The Kings allowed the Coyotes to go 3 for 7 with the man-advantage Tuesday after giving up one power-play goal over the previous nine games. Despite those struggles, Los Angeles ranks among the best in the NHL at killing penalties with an 86.5 percent success rate. "If you give up three power-play goals on the road, you're going to have a tough time winning," coach Darryl Sutter said. Dustin Brown is looking to build on his two points from Tuesday, matching his total from his previous 10 contests since the most recent meeting with Colorado. The right wing's 14 goals this season after a far cry from his team-leading 28 tallies from 2010-11. However, he has five goals and five assists in his last six visits to Pepsi Center, including an assist Oct. 30.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Greg Jennings: Ryan Tannehill has had his hands tied by coaches

Josh McDaniels 'happy' with Pats but wants to be a head coach again

WATCH: Jim Harbaugh in cleats throws out first pitch at Cubs game

Why Rickie Fowler will win the PGA Championship

Warren Sapp bitten on arm by shark

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Fitzpatrick, Jets agree to one-year deal

Baker considering removing Papelbon from closer role?

Greg Hardy struggling to find work, reportedly even in CFL

Jets players told not to discuss Ryan Fitzpatrick situation

Brock Lesnar won't be punished by WWE for UFC drug test

Report: Cowboys to be fined up to $250K for suspended players

Report: Ravens WR Mike Wallace failed conditioning test

WATCH: Kobe Bryant drives Ferrari around Italian racetrack

Terrelle Pryor shouts out Ohio State after ban ends

Justin Timberlake advocates for Memphis to join Big 12

Poll: Las Vegas residents don’t support public funds for NFL stadium

Conor McGregor talks trash to Nate Diaz on ‘Conan’

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Real Madrid can’t train at Norwegian school because of the kids

Newspaper uses Michael Jordan ‘crying face’ as image

Equipment manager Blake Griffin punched no longer works for Clippers

Report: Nicks signing one-year deal with Saints

Reds 'picking up the pace' on Jay Bruce trade talks

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker