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Avs host Ducks in battle of playoff hopefuls

The Colorado Avalanche will try to aid their push to the postseason with a fourth win in five games, as they host the Anaheim Ducks tonight at Pepsi Center.

The Avalanche are 3-1-0 in their last four outings and enter today tied with Los Angeles and Calgary for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. Both the Flames and Kings are idle tonight, but San Jose, which is just one point behind the Avs, are playing this evening in Edmonton.

Meanwhile, the Ducks have hurt their playoff chances in recent weeks, losing two straight, three of four and five of their last seven contests. With just 13 games left in its regular-season schedule, Anaheim is eight points out of the West's final postseason berth.

The Avalanche have taken two of three from the Ducks this season, but Anaheim has won seven of nine and 12 of the last 15 encounters between the clubs. The Ducks have also won in seven of their last nine trips to Denver.

Colorado bounced back from Thursday's loss in Nashville by edging the visiting Edmonton Oilers, 3-2, on Saturday.

Milan Hejduk notched the winner in the shootout for Colorado, beating Nikolai Khabibulin with a wrister to start the decisive phase. Peter Mueller followed with another successful shot, this time inside the right post. Jordan Eberle then missed his shot for the Oilers and Semyon Varlamov stopped Sam Gagner to end the contest.

Cody McLeod and Mueller netted second-period scores for the Avalanche, while Varlamov finished with 28 saves. Colorado allowed the Oilers to tie the score at 2-2 on Taylor Hall's 25th goal of the year with 4:43 left in the third period.

"It sure was a tough third period. We have to finish harder," Mueller said. "We got great goaltending and D, and they kept us in it until we could come up with the win."

Colorado is 20-15-1 as the host this year compared to a 16-15-3 mark on the road and the Avs will begin a three-game road trip after tonight's home test. The Avalanche will play seven of their next nine away from the Mile High City.

Chuck Kobasew has missed the last six games for the Avs with a back problem and is questionable for tonight. Fellow forward Matt Duchene will sit out a third straight game with a sprained right ankle and is expected to be sidelined until at least the end of March.

The Ducks have scored just one goal during their two-game slide and Anaheim couldn't get any of its 21 shots past Kari Lehtonen in Saturday's 2-0 loss in Dallas. Brenden Morrow scored the game-winner early in the second period for the Stars and Michael Ryder added an empty-netter.

Jonas Hiller was touched for one goal on 22 shots for the Ducks.

"It's getting down to it now. We have to be ready to play," said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf.

Ducks forward Corey Perry, who leads the team with 34 goals, left Saturday's game with a shoulder injury in the second period, but later returned. He was held out of practice on Sunday and is questionable for tonight.

Anaheim is completing a three-game road trip tonight and will play three straight and six of its next seven on home ice. The Ducks are 18-14-2 as the host this year compared to an 11-16-8 mark away from Orange County.