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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

game.

"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."

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

starts.

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.

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