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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Friday, February 22nd (All times eastern)

Colorado Avalanche (30-25-6) at Phoenix Coyotes (31-26-4), 9 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Colorado Avalanche will try to avoid their first six- game losing streak in almost 10 years tonight, when they visit Phoenix and Arena to wrap their season series with the Coyotes.

The Avalanche dropped four straight in regulation before Wednesday's 3-2 shootout loss in Anaheim. Colorado's current losing streak, its longest of the season, is its biggest drought between wins since the club went 0-5 with a tie from March 16-27, 2004. Colorado hasn't dropped six in a row since March 30- April 11, 1998, its third year in Denver.

On Wednesday, Andrew Brunette and Jeff Finger tallied for the Avalanche, who opened a five-game road trip. Peter Budaj, making his first start since February 4, made 20 saves in defeat and has only one win in his last seven decisions.

Jose Theodore had started the last six games for Colorado and should return tonight in net. Theodore has lost his last four starts, but is 4-0-0 with three ties and a 2.79 goals-against average in eight games lifetime against Phoenix.

Prior to the Anaheim game, the Avs activated defenseman Kyle Cumiskey from injured reserve. Cumiskey missed the previous 17 games due to a groin problem.

The club is also waiting for the return of Paul Stastny, who has been out of the lineup since January 15 due to an appendectomy and groin ailment. Stastny, who still leads Colorado with 32 assists and 49 points, is close to returning but missed his 15th game on Wednesday. However, he could play tonight.

Also, captain Joe Sakic, out since November 30 because of a groin injury that required hernia surgery in late December, returned to practice and should return sometime during this road trip. He is considered day-to-day and has seven goals and 15 assists in 24 games this year.

Colorado fell to 12-14-4 on the road this year and still have trips to Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver left on the trek. The Avs are tied with Phoenix for ninth in the West, two points back of Vancouver and Calgary for the final two playoff spots.

Though Colorado has won nine of its last 13 against Phoenix, the Coyotes have captured all three meetings with the Avs this season, though two have come in extra periods. The Avs haven't been swept in a season series by the Coyotes since the Quebec Nordiques dropped all three games to the Winnipeg Jets in the 1990-91 season.

Colorado, which did drop three games to Phoenix but also managed a tie in 1998-99, has also won five of its last six in the desert.

The Coyotes had a three-game winning streak halted on Tuesday with a 4-1 setback to Calgary. Derek Morris scored a power-play goal for the Coyotes, while Shane Doan and Daniel Carcillo notched assists. Doan now has a goal and six helpers over his last four games, giving him a season-high 42 assists on the season.

Ilya Bryzgalov allowed three goals on 34 shots in the loss and has a 2.88 GAA in eight February starts. He is 3-2-1 with a 2.50 GAA in six games (five starts) all-time versus Colorado.

The Coyotes play the middle portion of a three-game homestand tonight and are 13-14-2 as the host team this year. Phoenix wraps the stand on Sunday against St. Louis.

02/22 10:43:07 ET

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