Colorado Avalanche (52-22-7) at Anaheim Ducks (53-20-8), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Colorado Avalanche may have already clinched the
Central Division before evening stepping onto the ice on Sunday night.
If not, they will try to take care of business against the Western Conference
champion Anaheim Ducks as the Avs eye their first division title since 2003.
The Avalanche are tied atop the division standings with the struggling St.
Louis Blues, who have lost five straight. Both clubs have 111 points, but
Colorado owns the tiebreaker with four more non-shootout wins and only needs
to match St. Louis in points to win the Central crown.
St. Louis also is in action on Sunday as it hosts the Detroit Red Wings in the
afternoon. That means that Colorado will know exactly how many points, if any,
it needs going into this matchup with the Ducks.
The Avalanche could have locked up the division title and a first-round
playoff meeting with the Minnesota Wild on Friday, when the Blues lost to the
Dallas Stars. However, Colorado failed to do its part as it lost 5-1 to the
San Jose Sharks.
Despite knowing what was at stake, Colorado head coach Patrick Roy still
decided to start goaltender Reto Berra and the third-stringer was quickly
removed after allowing two goals on five shots in a little over 10 minutes.
Backup Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 22 saves in relief.
Semyon Varlamov was given the night off a day after earning his NHL-best 41st
win to break Roy's single-season franchise record. He is expected to start
Patrick Bordeleau had the lone goal for the Avs, who had been 8-0-1 in their
previous nine games.
"We kind of control our own fate here," said Avs defenseman Erik Johnson. "As
tough as it was to give this one up, we still control our own fate. That's a
good position to be in."
Though forward P.A. Parenteau returned from a 15-game absence caused by a knee
injury, defenseman Tyson Barrie missed the final two periods on Friday with an
upper-body injury. He has 13 goals and 38 points in 64 games this season.
John Mitchell also did not play because of headaches, while star forward Matt
Duchene remains out with a bruised knee.
The Ducks close out their regular season after picking up a 4-3 shootout
victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. That extended Anaheim's point
total to a club-record 114 points, giving the Ducks the top seed in the
Western Conference thanks to the victory.
"They all knew that they just needed a point," said Ducks head coach Bruce
Boudreau. "We never talked about it, but you could tell after the game was
over that they all knew because they all turned and some of them were high-
fiving each other. It's a pretty good accomplishment for them. Then we said
well let's go win it in the shootout."
A regulation loss by the Ducks would have set up a winner-take-all showdown
for the West's top seed Sunday in Anaheim against the Colorado Avalanche.
Devante Smith-Pelly scored the only shootout goal and also lit the lamp in
regulation along with Nick Bonino and Matt Beleskey. Frederik Andersen had 27
The Ducks, who won their third straight game, will face Dallas in the first
round of the playoffs.
Veteran forwards Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne were healthy scratches on
Saturday, but are expected to play in tonight's finale. This will mark
Selanne's final regular season game as he plans to retire at season's end.
The Ducks and Avalanche have split a pair of meetings this season, both in
Colorado, and Anaheim has won five of the previous seven encounters on home
04/13 10:55:47 ET
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