Los Angeles (42-24-5) at Colorado (40-25-7)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Denver, CO
Temp: 15° F
  • Game info: 9:00 pm EDT Wed Mar 24, 2010
  • TV: FSW, ALT
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Only two points separate the Colorado Avalanche and the Los Angeles Kings as the upstart clubs jockey for position in the Western Conference.

There’s not much difference between them on the ice, either.

Two days after losing to the Kings in overtime, the struggling Avalanche look to pull even with Los Angeles as the teams complete a home-and-home set Wednesday night in Denver.

The Avs were the only team that finished behind Los Angeles in the West last season, but both are in position to return to the playoffs thanks in part to the contributions of emerging young players.

Drew Doughty(notes), a standout 20-year-old defenseman who won a gold medal for Canada at last month’s Olympics, scored on the power play in overtime to give the Kings a 4-3 victory over Colorado on Monday.

It was the second straight one-goal win for Los Angeles (42-24-5), which moved closer to its first postseason appearance since 2002.

“We showed some of that mentality that you have to have this time of the year on a pretty consistent basis,” coach Terry Murray said. “Desperation is a good thing to have. Under-control desperation is what you need.”

Colorado (40-25-7) is slightly more desperate to secure its grip on a playoff spot, especially after losing three straight to slip to seventh place in the West. Both Detroit and Calgary are within striking distance.

T.J. Galiardi(notes) tied Monday’s game with less than 10 seconds left in regulation, earning the Avs a point, but Colorado will become more vulnerable if it does not avoid its first four-game skid all season.

“It was nice to see how we battled back and tied it,” forward Peter Mueller(notes) said. “It’s nice to get one point, and it would have been nicer to get two. It’s playoff hockey, and they’re higher-ranked than us, but what’s great is to be playing teams that are right there with you. We’re hoping we can make up some of that on Wednesday.”

Colorado may have to improve its special teams. In the last three games, the Avs are 0 for 11 on the power play while opponents are 6 for 13. The Kings, meanwhile have killed 29 straight penalties.

Veteran defenseman John-Michael Liles(notes) and forward Marek Svatos(notes) were both healthy scratches for Colorado on Monday as coach Joe Sacco tries to ignite his team.

“I thought our guys responded with a good game defensively, which is something we were looking for,” Sacco said. “We know L.A. plays a good, tough defensive game. We had good intensity. It’s something for us to build on, something positive.”

The 21-year-old Mueller had a goal and an assist, giving him 13 points in 10 games since the Avs acquired him from Phoenix at the trade deadline, and 22-year-old Chris Stewart(notes) extended his point streak to eight with his 28th goal.

Colorado, however, traded forward Ryan Smyth(notes) to the Kings last summer, and the veteran hurt his former team with two goals. Both came against Craig Anderson(notes), who has a 4.28 goals-against average during the Avs’ losing streak and is 0-3-2 in his career against the Kings.

Los Angeles’ young American netminder, Jon Quick, extended his single-season franchise record with his 39th win, making 18 saves. Quick is 3-0-0 with a 2.61 GAA against the Avs.

The teams square off again on the final day of the regular season April 11.

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Wednesday, Mar 24