Ducks look to strengthen playoff chances vs. lowly Avalanche

By Nicolino DiBenedetto
Stats Writer

Colorado (31-42-2) at Anaheim (37-32-6), 8:00 p.m. EDT

ANAHEIM, California (AP) — Another meeting with the team
occupying the bottom of the Western Conference could be just
what the Anaheim Ducks need to rebound from a tough loss to a
fellow playoff contender.

The Ducks look to sweep a season series from the lowly Colorado
Avalanche for the first time Sunday night.

Anaheim (37-32-6) is in the thick of the West playoff race,
competing with Edmonton, Nashville, St. Louis, Minnesota and
Dallas for the final two spots.

The Ducks, who have seven regular-season games left, look to
improve their playoff hopes against the Avalanche (31-42-2), who
are already eliminated from postseason contention and own the
fewest points in the conference.

Anaheim failed to capitalize on Friday’s meeting with the Oilers
at Honda Center, falling, 5-3, after allowing goals on
Edmonton’s first two shots of the game. The Ducks took a
team-record 54 shots, which included a 24-3 advantage in the
third period.

“The guys did everything they could,” said Jean-Sebastien
Giguere, who gave up four goals on seven shots in 22:44 of
playing time. “I’m sure we would have liked to have a better
start. After the first two minutes, I thought we controlled the

“We’re still right in the hunt … so every game is a must-win
from here on. And if we put this type of effort out on the ice
every day, I’m not worried about it. I know we have the
character, the talent and the leadership to go and do it.”

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Anaheim has won seven of its last eight meetings with Colorado,
including all three this season following Wednesday’s 7-2 road
victory. The Ducks have won four in a row over the Avs at home.

A strength for Anaheim could be in goal, as Giguere and Jonas
Hiller have been successful against Colorado.

Giguere, who was pulled twice Friday, is 4-0-0 with a 1.72
goals-against average in his last four games versus the
Avalanche, while Hiller is 3-1-0 with a 1.74 GAA in his career
against them.

Hiller got the start in Wednesday’s matchup, making 34 saves.
He’s 3-0-0 with a 1.63 GAA in his last four games – three

The Avalanche lost their season high-tying sixth straight
(0-5-1) on Friday, falling, 4-1, to Vancouver after giving up
three goals in the third. Colorado is looking to avoid its
longest losing streak since dropping eight in a row from January
2-23, 1992, when the franchise was the Quebec Nordiques.

Colorado hasn’t generated more than two goals in any game during
the skid and could use some help from Ryan Smyth and Milan
Hejduk, the team’s co-leaders with 26 goals.

Smyth, who has a team-high 58 points, has failed to muster a
point in the last four games. He’s been held without a point in
the last four meetings with Anaheim.

Hejduk scored against the Ducks on Wednesday, giving him goals
in each of the last two meetings. However, he was held
pointless Friday for the seventh time in nine games.