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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, March 14th (All times Eastern)

Anaheim Ducks (43-16-7) at Colorado Avalanche (43-18-5), 9 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The struggling Anaheim Ducks desperately need an injection of confidence. A road win over a red-hot Colorado Avalanche team on Friday night could do the trick.

Anaheim's recent problems has dropped the club into a tie for first place in the Pacific Division with San Jose. The Sharks have won four straight and are in action this evening when they visit the New York Islanders.

Although the Ducks hold a game in hand over San Jose, Anaheim is mired in a four-game losing streak and is coming off a 7-2 loss to the Calgary Flames, a team that is well on its way to a fifth straight season out of the playoffs.

The Ducks were picked apart in Calgary, falling behind 5-0 to the Flames en route to the blowout loss. It was the seventh loss in 10 games overall for Anaheim and also snapped the club's three-game road winning streak.

"I really have nothing right now," Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau said when asked why his team is struggling of late. "It's easy to say just pick it up and do that, but we better do some soul searching."

Andrew Cogliano and Nick Bonino scored for the Ducks, while goaltender Jonas Hiller was chased after giving up three goals on five shots in the first period. Frederik Andersen replaced him and allowed four goals on 20 shots in relief.

"To a man, it's absolutely embarrassing losing 7-2," said Cogliano. "At the end of the day, our whole team, every man, should be embarrassed."

Anaheim hopes to pick up the pieces Friday when it plays the middle test of a three-game road trip in Denver. The Ducks, who are 19-10-3 away from Orange County this season, will close the swing on Saturday when they visit the rival Los Angeles Kings.

Fittingly, the only other team to beat the Ducks by a five-goal margin this season was the Avalanche, who recorded a 6-1 victory over Anaheim on Oct. 2 in the season opener for both teams.

"We have to be better, simply because (Colorado) already beat us 6-1 (in the season opener)," said Cogliano. "They're playing very good hockey."

That October meeting also was notable for a heated exchange between Boudreau and Colorado head coach Patrick Roy, who shouted at the Ducks coach and nearly pushed over a partition separating the team's benches. Roy was angered at a perceived non-call on Avs rookie Nathan MacKinnon.

Colorado, which has won two straight and four of its last six meetings against the Ducks, enters Friday's rematch having won six of its last seven games.

Roy's club posted its most recent win against the defending Stanley Cup champions, as the Avs downed a visiting Chicago team 3-2 in regulation. The victory moved Colorado one point ahead of the Blackhawks for second place in the Central Division.

The Avs, who enter Friday six points behind the Blues for first place in the division, used a strong performance from goaltender Semyon Varlamov to frustrate the Blackhawks at the Pepsi Center. Varlamov stopped 37 shots to record his 100th career victory and improve to 33-12-5 on the season.

Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly picked up a goal and assist each for the Avalanche. Brad Malone added a tally as Colorado won four of five in the season series against Chicago.

"As a team we expected them to come hard the later it got. There's still a long way to go," said Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog of his club's opponent. "Tonight was a huge win, and we certainly sent a message. We're not going to give them anything."

The Avs improved to 2-1-0 on a four-game homestand that ends tonight. Colorado, which is 23-9-3 as the home team this season, has won three of its last four games against Anaheim at the Pepsi Center. The clubs will complete the season series in Orange County on April 13.

03/14 10:55:45 ET

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