The Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings are sputtering in
the Western Conference playoff race.
The Avalanche have made the first move to begin trying to change
that, and another meeting with the Kings may prove beneficial.
With Steve Downie expected to make his team debut, the Avalanche
look to complete their first season sweep of Los Angeles in 19
years Wednesday night at Pepsi Center.
Colorado (29-27-4) is 11th in the West, four points back of the
Kings (27-21-12) for the eighth and final postseason position. Both
clubs, however, are enduring rough stretches to improve their
The Avalanche are 3-6-2 since a 3-1 victory at Los Angeles on
The Kings followed that meeting with a pair of victories, but
then went on to drop seven of the next nine (2-5-2) after blowing a
three-goal, first-period lead to fall 5-4 in a shootout at Phoenix
Colorado, though, feels it’s made a move to improve its
postseason chances, acquiring Downie from Tampa Bay in a deal that
sent defenseman Kyle Quincey to Detroit.
Downie had 12 goals and 16 assists while compiling a minus-15
rating for the Lightning. The right wing is also known for his
toughness, collecting 500 penalty minutes over the past three
seasons to rank second to only Ottawa’s Zenon Konopka (740) in that
“Our organization believes that Steve Downie will add grit and
skill to our lineup offensively,” general manager Greg Sherman said
in a statement. “He plays the game with an edge, and we look
forward to seeing the immediate and future impact he can bring to
Colorado is returning home after enduring a 1-2-1 road trip,
capped by Sunday’s 5-1 loss at Winnipeg.
“It’s a big loss this time of the year,” said center Matt
Duchene, who didn’t get a point in his return to the lineup after
missing 20 games because of a knee injury.
Having Duchene continue to move past his injury may also provide
a spark. He has 12 goals and 12 assists after setting career highs
with 27 and 40, respectively, last season.
Duchene scored the eventual winner early in the third period of
a 3-2 victory over the Kings in Denver on Oct. 30.
Colorado has won both meetings since, putting the club on the
brink of sweeping the season series for the first time since it won
both matchups in 1992-93 as the Quebec Nordiques.
Los Angeles is trying to avoid a four-game slide for the first
time since a season-high five-game skid from Dec. 3-13.
Re-establishing its success on the penalty kill could go a long way
in doing that.
The Kings allowed the Coyotes to go 3 for 7 with the
man-advantage Tuesday after giving up one power-play goal over the
previous nine games.
Despite those struggles, Los Angeles ranks among the best in the
NHL at killing penalties with an 86.5 percent success rate.
“If you give up three power-play goals on the road, you’re going
to have a tough time winning,” coach Darryl Sutter said.
Dustin Brown is looking to build on his two points from Tuesday,
matching his total from his previous 10 contests since the most
recent meeting with Colorado.
The right wing’s 14 goals this season after a far cry from his
team-leading 28 tallies from 2010-11. However, he has five goals
and five assists in his last six visits to Pepsi Center, including
an assist Oct. 30.