Colorado (25-22-6) at Minnesota (27-20-5)

By JEFF BARTL, STATS Writer Wednesday, Feb 9, 2011 Puck Drop: 8:00 pm EST Wed Feb 9, 2011

The Colorado Avalanche’s goal drought has come at a bad time as the team battles for a Western Conference playoff spot.

A victory over a division rival would provide them with a much-needed two points, but they’ll need to avoid being shut out for the third straight time when they face the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night.

The Avalanche (25-22-6) have been blanked in consecutive games for the first time since April 11-12, 2009, suffering 3-0 defeats to Anaheim on Saturday and Phoenix on Monday. Those games pushed their losing streak to four, and they’ve dropped six of seven as they struggle to keep pace in the West race.

Colorado has been shut out five times in its last 20 games after not being blanked in its previous 54.

“I really don’t understand and I don’t think anyone knows what’s going on right now,” leading scorer Matt Duchene(notes) said. “We get chances and they’re just not going in for us right now. It’s very discouraging.”

The Avalanche franchise has never been shut out three straight times. Colorado hasn’t lost five in a row since a six-game slide from March 19-April 1, 2009.

Duchene has two goals in his last 10 games and was held scoreless in a 4-3 loss to the Wild on Thursday. Minnesota scored twice in the first 61 seconds and held on behind Jose Theodore(notes), who faced a 19-shot barrage in the third period as the Wild were outshot 41-25.

Milan Hejduk(notes) scored twice and has four goals and an assist in three games versus Minnesota this season. He’s recorded at least a goal in four straight meetings with the Wild.

The Avs would love for Hejduk to extend that run, but they’ll have to wait at least one more game before getting a boost from the recently signed Peter Forsberg(notes). The forward was not with the team in Minnesota due to unresolved visa issues, and it’s unclear when he’ll make his NHL return.

Colorado anticipates he’ll be able to play later this week.

“I’m going to be very nervous for the first game, so I wish it could come right away,” Forsberg said.

Craig Anderson(notes) has gone 0-5-0 with a 4.10 goals-against average in his last five starts, but the Avalanche scored only five goals in those games.

Minnesota (27-20-5) had to contend with its own offensive problems Saturday as its three-game winning streak was snapped in a 1-0 loss to Phoenix. The Wild had scored 26 goals in winning six of seven.

Niklas Backstrom(notes) made 40 saves but lost for the first time in three starts.

“We had our chances,” Backstrom said. “We gave up the one goal and it was a tight game. One bounce there, one bounce here and we could have tied it.”

Former Avalanche forward Andrew Brunette(notes) scored twice Thursday and also had a goal in the previous two matchups with Colorado.

The Avs won the last two meetings in Minnesota after dropping nine of the previous 10 there.

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Wednesday, Feb 9