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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, December 31st (All times eastern)

Colorado Avalanche (19-16-1) at Phoenix Coyotes (17-15-5), 8 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Colorado Avalanche will aim for their fourth consecutive victory when they visit the Phoenix Coyotes for a New Year's Eve battle at Jobing.com Arena.

The Avalanche have used their recent three-game winning streak to pull themselves out of the Northwest Division basement and are now third with 39 points. Calgary currently leads the Northwest with 46 points.

Colorado picked up a lopsided victory its last time out, as it posted a 5-1 decision Monday night against visiting Nashville. Cody McLeod scored twice and Peter Budaj made 25 saves to lead the Avalanche to the easy win at the Pepsi Center. With the win, Colorado finished a three-game homestand with a perfect 3-0 mark.

John-Michael Liles posted a goal and an assist, his third consecutive multi- point performance for the Avalanche, who have also won four of five games overall.

Ryan Smyth has registered two goals and five assists in the last three games while Liles has three goals and four assists during that span.

Avalanche right wing Milan Hejduk appeared in his 737th career game, tying Peter Stastny for fourth place on the franchise's all-time games played list. Only Joe Sakic (1,378), Adam Foote (838) and Michel Goulet (813) have played in more games for the Colorado/Quebec franchise.

Colorado is just 8-10-1 as the visiting team this year and has lost four of its last six road tilts. Next up for the Avs is a two-game homestand, which begins Friday against Columbus.

The Coyotes, meanwhile, have lost three of their last four games and are coming off a home-and-home split with Los Angeles. Phoenix earned a 2-1 decision in LA on Friday before getting blanked, 4-0, the following day in the home portion of the series.

Alexander Frolov scored twice, and Jonathan Quick stopped 26 shots for the second shutout of his young career, as the Kings routed the Coyotes, 4-0, on Saturday.

Ilya Bryzgalov gave up four goals on 30 shots for Phoenix, which went 0-for-9 on the power play in the loss.

This evening's test marks the middle point of a three-game homestand for the Coyotes and they will close the residency Friday against the New York Islanders. Phoenix, which has a solid 11-5-2 record as the host this year, has won five of its last seven home tests.

Phoenix and the Avs have split a pair of meetings this year with each club earning a win on their home ice. However, the Coyotes earned a point in both games as they dropped an overtime decision in Denver on December 23.

The Coyotes have taken four of six in the series with Colorado, while the Avs have dropped two of their last three in Glendale.

12/31 10:47:06 ET


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