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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Saturday, February 9th (All times eastern)

Colorado Avalanche (29-21-5) at Vancouver Canucks (27-21-7), 10 p.m.

(Sports Network) - A key Northwest Division battle is on tap for tonight, as the Colorado Avalanche, who may have their leading scorer back, are set to take on the Canucks at Vancouver's General Motors Place.

The Avalanche have won two of their last three games and trail Minnesota by one point in the race for the division title. Vancouver, meanwhile, is in fourth place but is just three points behind the Wild.

Colorado got goaltender Jose Theodore back on Wednesday, and he turned aside 30 shots in helping his club to a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks. Theodore had missed the last three games due to back spasms, and made 11 straight starts prior to the injury.

T.J. Hensick scored the go-ahead goal, giving him five tallies in his last three games, while Ben Guite and Jeff Finger also scored for the Avalanche. Brett Clark had two assists.

Paul Stastny, tops on the club with 32 assists and 49 points to go along with 17 goals, missed his ninth straight game due to an appendectomy he underwent in mid-January, but is expected to return tonight.

He had two goals and three assists in three games prior to the injury and has been skating with the team since last week. Stastny should provide a nice boost to a club that is still without Joe Sakic (hernia surgery) and Ryan Smyth (broken right ankle).

Theodore, meanwhile, is 14-12-2 with a 2.45 goals-against average in 28 games (27 starts) this year, but is just 6-9-2 with a tie and 2.92 GAA in 19 career games against Vancouver.

The Avs play the second of back-to-back road tests and have won five of their last six as the visiting club. Colorado is 11-13-3 as the road team this year.

Vancouver has been struggling as of late and had lost eight of its last nine before a 2-1 victory over Atlanta on Thursday. Roberto Luongo stopped 27 shots in the win.

Daniel Sedin and Alex Burrows each scored a goal for the Canucks. Sedin's goal was his team-leading 24th goal of the season and he is tied with twin brother Henrik for the team lead in points with 54.

While Henrik leads the team with 43 assists, Daniel has been playing the role of both brothers as of late, as he has two goals and seven assists over his last eight games. Henrik has two goals and one helper in his last five contests.

After completing a four-game road trip 1-1-2, Vancouver begins a four-game homestand tonight. The Canucks have lost four of their last five at home and are 14-10-2 as the host this season.

Vancouver won its first two matchups this year against Colorado -- one at home and one on the road -- before losing a 3-1 test in Denver on December 23. The Canucks have still won five of the last eight meetings in the series, and the Avs have dropped five of seven and six of their last nine at Vancouver.

02/09 11:00:00 ET

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