Avalanche opens home run by facing Coyotes

Phoenix (16-14-4) at Colorado (16-16-1) 9:00 p.m. EST

DENVER (Ticker) — The Colorado Avalanche plan on spending much
of their time home for the holidays.

The Avalanche start a stretch that will see them play 15 of
their next 19 games at the Pepsi Center on Tuesday against Wayne
Gretzky’s Phoenix Coyotes.

Coach Tony Granato will give the netminding duties to Andrew
Raycroft, who has been stellar of late, picking up two wins on
the team’s recent road trip.

“He’s coming off two very solid games,” Granato said on the
team’s web site. “Peter (Budaj) has been very good for us all
year, so it has nothing to do with Peter not playing well. It’s
just the fact that Andrew went into two tough buildings and
found ways to win.”

Raycroft is 5-1-0 with a 2.79 goals-against average in seven
appearances, earning him some more work. He posted wins at
Detroit and Tampa Bay on December, respectively.

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The upcoming run is critical to the playoff hopes of the
Avalanche, who are tied for last in the Northwest Division with
33 points. However, they are only eight points back of the
first-place Vancouver Canucks.

Colorado has played 14 home games as opposed to 19 on the road.
Its home total is the third-lowest in the league, trailing only
the Edmonton Oilers (12) and Florida Panthers (13).

They also can catch a Coyotes team that is coming off a loss
Monday in Edmonton. The Coyotes saw their 4-0-2 run end with
the 4-2 loss.

Martin Hanzal and Enver Lisin each tallied and Mikael Tellqvist
stopped 23 shots for Phoenix, which has not beaten Edmonton
since February 27, 2007.