Avalanche hope for Sakic to return against Kings

Colorado (8-10-0) at Los Angeles (8-8-2), 10:30 pm EST

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) — The Colorado Avalanche have struggled
without captain Joe Sakic – even during goaltender Peter Budaj’s
resurgent stretch.

After missing four games, Sakic hopes to rejoin the Avalanche
and provide support for Budaj when they take on the Los Angeles
Kings on Saturday.

According to the team’s web site, Sakic traded in the bright
orange non-contact jersey he wore on Wednesday for a more
traditional gray practice sweater on Friday at practice,
signifying he could suit up for this contest after missing a
stretch in which the Avalanche are 2-2-0.

“I didn’t like him in the orange the other day, so we got him
back in the grays,” Avalanche head coach Tony Granato said. “He
practiced with his regular line. We’ll see how he is tomorrow
after the travel and the morning skate. He’s definitely going
on the trip and he’ll definitely try and get ready tomorrow
morning; we’ll see where he’s at.”

The 20-year veteran has two goals and 10 assists in 13 games

“When the guys look down the bench and look in the locker room
and see that he’s in there, I think it makes everyone feel
better about themselves,” Granato said. “It’ll be nice to get
him back in there – I don’t know if it’ll be (Saturday) or not –
but certainly in the next couple of games.”

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Budaj, who began the season in unspectacular fashion, is 3-2-0
with a 1.37 goals-against average and a .960 save percentage
over his last five starts. Budaj has been forced to reckon with
a struggling offense, as the Avalanche have scored just five
goals in regulation during that stretch.

In the team’s two-game losing skid, with both losses coming
against the Calgary Flames, Budaj has turned aside 79-of-83

Los Angeles, meanwhile, has also benefited from strong
goaltending since Erik Ersberg has taken the starting role from
Jason LaBarbera.

The 26-year-old Swede has surrendered two goals in each of his
last five games and has started eight straight. Ersberg made 19
saves in the Kings’ 5-2 victory over the Washington Capitals on
Thursday en route to snapping a two-game losing streak.

Selected second overall in June’s draft, defenseman Drew Doughty
scored his third goal in that win and has six points over the
last seven contests. The 18-year-old had one point in 11 of his
previous games.