The Colorado Avalanche have little room for error as they fight
for one of the final playoff spots in the Western Conference. The
unexpected return of Matt Duchene could provide a lift as they
continue a difficult stretch.
Colorado will look to win its fourth straight Thursday night
when it visits the New Jersey Devils.
The Avalanche (38-30-4) are one of many teams fighting for the
final few playoff spots in the West and have surged back into
contention while going 9-3-0 in their last 12. They opened a
three-game road trip with a 5-4 shootout win over Buffalo on
Jamie McGinn forced overtime by scoring with 2 seconds left in
regulation – his second goal of the game – and Peter Mueller netted
the lone shootout goal.
The Avalanche outshot the Sabres 16-8 in the third period and
42-24 overall. All three of their victories during this streak have
been decided after regulation.
“This is the biggest win of the year,” Mueller said. “To go from
zero points to getting two with seconds left, you don’t make that
stuff up. It just shows the character of this team in that we never
The Avalanche’s trip doesn’t get any easier with visits to New
Jersey (40-25-5) and the Eastern Conference-leading New York
Rangers on Saturday as they play six of their final 10 games on the
The Devils are also trying to improve their playoff seeding. In
sixth place in the East, New Jersey is two points behind
Colorado will have some help as it continues this difficult
stretch. Duchene is expected to return to the lineup Thursday after
missing four games with an ankle injury. It was originally
anticipated he’d miss three to four weeks.
Duchene has 13 goals and 26 points in 48 games. He returned in
February after missing 20 games with a right knee injury.
While the Avalanche try to keep the momentum going, New Jersey
looks to bounce back after a 3-0 loss to Philadelphia on
After defeating the Flyers 4-1 at home two nights earlier for
their fourth straight win, the Devils came out flat in the second
game of the home-and-home series. They were outshot 29-17, putting
three shots on goal in the third period.
It was the second time this month the Devils were shut out and
the third time in nine games. They had outscored their previous
four opponents 15-4.
“We were outcompeted in a lot of the small areas of the game
that we’re usually pretty good at, and it showed,” coach Pete
DeBoer said. “They were better than us.”
Ilya Kovalchuk was held without a point after recording nine in
the previous four games. He remained on 399 career goals and has
three in his last four games against the Avalanche, including one
While the Devils may call on Martin Brodeur to start again
Thursday, he gave up six goals on 25 shots in a 6-1 loss at
Colorado on Nov. 30. He has lost his last three starts against the
New Jersey has won three straight at home, outscoring opponents