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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, October 3rd (All times eastern)

Vancouver Canucks (0-1-0) at Colorado Avalanche (1-0-0), 3 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Colorado Avalanche will try to begin the 2009-10 campaign with consecutive victories when they welcome the Vancouver Canucks for this afternoon's battle at the Pepsi Center.

The Avalanche honored Joe Sakic by retiring his No. 19 sweater prior to Thursday's season opener and then used the emotion to roll to a 5-2 victory over visiting San Jose. Wojtek Wolski scored twice to lead Colorado past a Sharks club that is considered by many to be the best team in the Western Conference this year.

John-Michael Liles, Darcy Tucker and Cody McLeod also scored for the Avalanche, who are coming off their worst season since the franchise moved from Quebec to Denver following the 1994-95 campaign. Colorado finished last in the Northwest Division and its 69 points was the club's lowest total in a full season since the Nordiques had 52 in 1991-92.

Craig Anderson, who spent the previous three seasons with the Florida Panthers, made 38 saves. Anderson was signed as a free agent this summer and Colorado hopes he can give the club some stability in goal, something that's been lacking since Patrick Roy retired following the 2002-03 season.

"This is pretty exceptional," said Anderson. "We will certainly take these points. Our guys played great team defense tonight. We just did not give them anything."

Prior to the game, Sakic received a red carpet treatment as the team lifted his jersey to the rafters. A virtual lock for the Hall of Fame, the 40-year- old Sakic announced his retirement back in July having spent his entire 20- year career with the organization that drafted him.

Following today's game, the Avs are off until beginning a season-high seven- game road trip Thursday in Nashville.

The Canucks, meanwhile, will try to bounce back after suffering a road loss to a Northwest Division rival in their season opener on Thursday night. Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 39 shots, while Rene Bourque and Mark Giordano each had a goal and an assist to lead the Calgary Flames past Vancouver, 5-3, at the Saddledome.

Alex Burrows, Kevin Bieksa and Mikael Samuelsson each scored a goal in defeat, while Roberto Luongo let in four goals on the 22 shots he faced.

The Canucks won the Northwest title last year, finishing just two points ahead of the Flames, and the clubs are expected to battle each other for the division crown in 2009-10 as well.

Vancouver will play its home opener next when it welcomes Columbus for Monday's game at General Motors Place. That contest will kick off a three-game homestand for the Canucks.

The Canucks and Avs split six meetings last year, but Vancouver wound up with one more point than Colorado in those outings. The Avalanche has taken nine of 12 overall from Vancouver and the Canucks have dropped seven of their last 11 tests in Denver despite winning in their last two trips to the Rocky Mountain State.

10/03 10:37:10 ET

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