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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, December 8th (All times Eastern)

Colorado Avalanche (20-7-0) at Vancouver Canucks (16-10-5), 8 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Vancouver Canucks will try to match their longest winning streak of the season when they host the Colorado Avalanche in Sunday's clash at Rogers Arena.

Vancouver has won three in a row for the third time this season after recent victories against Carolina, Nashville and Phoenix. Another win on Sunday would give the Canucks their second four-game winning streak of the 2013-14 campaign, following a 4-0 stretch from Oct. 22-28.

The Canucks coughed up a 2-0 lead in their most recent victory, a 3-2 overtime win in Friday's home test against the Phoenix Coyotes. Vancouver held a 2-0 edge after 40 minutes before allowing the Coyotes to even the score in the third period thanks to goals from Antoine Vermette and David Moss.

However, Christopher Higgins was able to deliver the game-winner for the Canucks in the extra session, scoring on a wrister from the left circle at 3:41 of OT.

"I'm happy we won, but I can't stand the way we won," Canucks head coach John Tortorella said after the close victory.

Jason Garrison and Henrik Sedin also scored for the Canucks, who have won four of their last five tilts. Roberto Luongo stopped 37 shots in Friday's victory and improved his season record to 13-8-5.

Luongo expects to start again on Sunday and is 18-15-5 with a 2.66 goals against average in 38 career games against the Avalanche.

Sunday's game marks the first of three scheduled meetings between Colorado and the Canucks this season. Vancouver has dominated the series in recent years, taking 10 of 11 and 14 of the last 16 meetings with the Avs.

However, Colorado halted a 10-game losing streak in the series with a 4-3 home regulation win when the clubs met last on April 13 of last season. Vancouver has still claimed eight meetings in a row as the host and is 10-0-1 in the last 11 encounters at Rogers Arena.

The Avs have been the better team so far in the 2013-14 campaign, posting 40 points on a 20-7-0 record compared to Vancouver's 37-point total on a 16-10-5 mark.

Colorado enters Sunday's showdown in British Columbia having won three of four and six of its last eight contests. The Avs were last in action on Friday when they recorded a 3-2 win in Calgary to rebound from an 8-2 rout in Thursday's road test against Edmonton.

The Avs opened a three-game road trip with the lopsided loss against the Oilers, but bounced back the following night with a regulation win over the Flames. Maxime Talbot tallied a goal and an assist to help Colorado post the Friday's 3-2 decision at the Saddledome.

PA Parenteau and Nathan MacKinnon also scored for Colorado, while backup goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere posted 26 saves to improve to 7-0-0 on the season.

"It was very important," Giguere said of the bounce-back win. "We needed to respond the right way, show everybody that we're human, the same as anyone else. We might lose some games where we didn't play well but we're able to bounce back the next game. I thought we played a terrific game tonight."

If Avs head coach Patrick Roy takes career numbers into consideration, Giguere could get another start over No. 1 netminder Semyon Varlamov on Sunday.

Giguere is 10-11-2 with a pair of ties and a 2.82 GAA in 31 career games against Vancouver. Varlamov, who surrendered all eight goals on 28 shots in Thursday's loss against Edmonton, has a slightly better 2.80 GAA in eight career outings against the Canucks, but he is 0-7-1 in those games.

Colorado will be without defenseman Jan Hejda for a second straight game. The 35-year-old blueliner sprained his left knee in the loss to the Oilers and was sent back to Denver to be evaluated by team doctors.

Hejda has three goals, six assists and a plus-17 rating in 26 games this season. He is also leading Colorado in ice time, logging an average of 22 minutes, 10 seconds per game.

12/08 10:56:56 ET

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