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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Wednesday, December 5th (All times eastern)

Colorado Avalanche (14-11-1) at Columbus Blue Jackets (12-10-5), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - A pair of struggling teams will meet this evening in Columbus, as the Blue Jackets welcome the Colorado Avalanche to Nationwide Arena.

Both clubs have 29 points on the season, but have fallen on hard times in recent weeks. Colorado has dropped six of its last nine contests, while the Blue Jackets have posted a dismal 4-7-3 mark in their previous 14 games.

The Avalanche last played on Monday and were handed a close loss by the visiting San Jose Sharks. Mike Grier's third-period goal proved to be the game-winner as San Jose edged Colorado, 3-2, at the Pepsi Center.

Milan Hejduk and Andrew Brunette lit the lamp for Colorado, while Jose Theodore made 25 saves in defeat.

The Avalanche once again played without captain Joe Sakic, who has sat out the last two games with a sore groin, ending his regular-season streak of 232 consecutive games played. He is expected to miss tonight's game as well.

The 38-year-old Sakic is second on Colorado in scoring this season with 22 points (7 goals, 15 assists).

The Avs are just 4-8-1 as the visiting team this season, but have won two of their last three road tests.

Columbus, meanwhile, is coming off Monday's home loss to the Dallas Stars. Niklas Hagman's goal in the fifth round of a shootout boosted the surging Stars to the 2-1 triumph over the Blue Jackets.

Nikolai Zherdev scored in the first period for Columbus, but Chris Conner tied it for Dallas early in the third.

Pascal Leclaire made 33 saves for the Blue Jackets, who opened a five-game homestand by losing for the third time in four contests. Columbus is 7-3-3 as the home team this season, but has dropped three of its last four home tilts.

Colorado pounded the Blue Jackets, 5-1, in the teams' first meeting of the season, back on October 13 in Denver. The Avalanche are 22-2-1 (2 losses, 1 tie) in their 25 all-time meetings with Columbus and has outscored the Blue Jackets 98-35 in those contests.

12/05 10:46:07 ET

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