The Colorado Avalanche are hoping to turn things around on game homestand, but after a split of the first two contests they now run into a foe that has been more than a handful over the past two years.
Colorado improved to 2-6-1 in November when it won the opener of its homestand on Friday versus Dallas. That victory also halted a three-game slide overall, but the Avalanche failed to build off of it and lost a 4-1 decision to the Sharks on Sunday.
Matt Duchene scored the game's first goal for Colorado, but the offense was stifled from there. Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 14 saves in his third straight start as the Avs fell to 3-7-0 as the host this year.
"We didn't get the puck out at times at the blue line," said Duchene, who has scored in two straight and four of five games. "They made us pay. They are a very skilled team and if you make a mistake, it will likely end up in the back of your own net."
Duchene leads the Avalanche with nine goals on the season, with seven of them coming in November. That is one shy of his personal best for a single month behind the eight he netted in December of 2010.
The 20-year-old Duchene has six goals in 12 career games versus the Canucks, who are 9-0-2 in their last 11 versus the Avalanche since a 3-0 Colorado win at home on Oct. 3, 2009. That includes a 4-0-1 mark in five trips to Denver since, though Colorado notched a 4-3 overtime win in the last meeting at the Pepsi Center on Jan. 18.
David Jones had two goals, including the game-winner, and teammate Paul Stastny, who has 27 points in 30 games against the Canucks, is hoping for a turnaround in this series tonight.
"We know we have to pick it up at home," said Stastny. "From the beginning of the year to now I think we've been better, sometimes it's just a matter of a couple bounces here and there, but it's a big homestand. It's an important stretch for us."
It is unknown if the Avalanche will be facing Roberto Luongo or Cory Schneider in goal tonight. Vancouver's No. 1 goaltender, Luongo has missed the last two games with an upper-body injury, but skated on Monday.
"I feel like I'm ready to go and get back in there," Luongo said. "My goal is to be at least in uniform for Wednesday's game. Whether I'm starting or not is [head coach Alain Vigneault's] decision, but I feel ready to go."
Keith Ballard was also at practice after missing Sunday's 2-1 overtime victory against Ottawa with a back injury. Schneider earned the victory with 28 saves.
"We want to get back to playing tight-checking games like this," Schneider said. "With our structure and our talent, we'll be able to win most of them."
The victory was the 246th for Vigneault as the Canucks' head coach, tying Marc Crawford for the franchise record.