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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, April 10th (All times Eastern)

Colorado Avalanche (51-21-7) at Vancouver Canucks (35-33-11), 10 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - With a chance to grab a share of first place in the Central Division, the Colorado Avalanche try to extend an eight-game point streak on Thursday night when they visit the Vancouver Canucks.

The Avs are on a 7-0-1 tear and have pulled within two points of the division- leading St. Louis Blues with three games left for both clubs. The Blues also are in action on Thursday as they visit the Minnesota Wild.

Colorado also is trying to hold off the third-place Chicago Blackhawks, who are two points back of the Avs but have just two games remaining in the regular season. The Blackhawks are idle tonight.

The Avalanche bounced back from a shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins by besting the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 on Tuesday. Defenseman Erik Johnson put Colorado ahead for good, scoring on an individual effort 12 seconds after the Oilers had tied the game at 1-1 in the first period.

"Anytime you're a team where you score and the other team comes out the shift after and scores right after it's definitely a buzz kill and a momentum killer," said Johnson. "We controlled the pace of the game, the entire game, after that and maybe that was the reason why. Maybe not but it definitely felt good to get that go-ahead goal at that time."

Tyson Barrie, Jamie McGinn and Paul Stastny all scored for the Avalanche, while Ryan O'Reilly and Nathan MacKinnon both had two assists. Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 22 saves.

Colorado picked up a victory in the opener of a season-ending four-game road trip and also will visit San Jose on Friday and Anaheim on Sunday.

While the Avs are already assured a playoff spot, the Canucks are set to miss the postseason for the first time since 2007-08. They had won five straight Northwest Division titles in that span, but have struggled this season in the new-look Pacific Division following realignment.

Vancouver lost for the fourth time in five games on Monday, with the 3-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks officially knocking the Canucks out of the playoff race.

"It's been a while, we're disappointed for sure," Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "The last few weeks have been very disappointing."

Eddie Lack was tagged for all three goals on 23 shots in the loss for the Canucks.

Repercussions were felt the following day when team president and general manager Mike Gillis was fired on Tuesday. Vancouver then hired former team captain Trevor Linden as the president of hockey operations and alternate governor on Wednesday.

The Canucks will wrap the regular season with a trip to Edmonton on Saturday before hosting Calgary the following day.

Though the Canucks and Avs have split two meetings this season, Vancouver is 19-1-3 over the previous 23 meetings and Colorado has dropped nine in a row as the guest in this series.

The Avalanche's last victory in Vancouver came back on April 6, 2010, a 4-3 shootout triumph.

04/10 10:58:17 ET