NHL

Avalanche-Canucks Preview

Vancouver's season is slipping away at the same alarming rate pucks are sliding past both its goaltenders lately.

As a result, missing the postseason for the second time in three years is looking more likely than making up the necessary ground for a Western Conference wild card.

The Canucks have won only twice in their last 10 games overall and have lost six straight at home heading into Sunday night's matchup with the Colorado Avalanche, who are fighting to hold their playoff position.

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Vancouver (22-24-12) has allowed 34 goals during a 2-7-1 stretch while slipping to 11th in the West, nine points back of Nashville for the final playoff spot. Each contest during its four-game losing streak has been decided by a 5-2 score, with Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom each starting twice.

Markstrom lost Friday at Calgary and has a .851 save percentage in his last two after winning his previous four starts with a 1.71 goals-against average. He made 29 saves during the last start in that span to beat Colorado 3-1 on Feb. 9.

Coach Willie Desjardins had yet to announce if he'll go with Markstrom or Miller, who is 1-5-2 with a 2.49 GAA since Jan. 19.

"You can't let the negativity take over. You've got to stick together as a team," Markstrom said. "We're in the same boat. Nobody wants to be in this boat, but the reality is we're all in it. We've got to find a way to get out of it.

"We've got to show up in practice and just work hard. That's what it takes. Wins are not going to come easy in this league."

That's been especially true at home recently. The Canucks are 0-5-1 at Rogers Arena during their slump and haven't dropped seven in a row there since an 0-6-3 skid in 2008-09.

Vancouver has scored fewer than three goals in each game during its current losing streak and hasn't won a home game since beating Florida on Jan. 11. This is the first of a five-game homestand.

"It's going to be huge for us to turn this around," said rookie Jake Virtanen, who scored against the Flames. "We're obviously going to have to step up as a team and the younger guys are going to have to step up and the older guys are going to have to keep on playing hard."

The Sedins have done their part. Daniel has a goal and four assist during a four-game point streak and Henrik posted the same totals during his own four-game run that ended Friday.

Bo Horvat had a goal and an assist in the first meeting with the Avalanche (31-26-4), who have won the last two matchups in Vancouver after dropping the previous nine.

Colorado holds the West's first wild-card spot and has won four of five after beating Edmonton 3-2 on Saturday. Tyson Barrie scored the go-ahead goal 1:23 into the second period and added an insurance goal in the third to back Calvin Pickard's 25-save performance.

The Avalanche have won six of eight on the road since Jan. 18.

"We like our game," coach Patrick Roy said. "Hopefully we can carry it into (Sunday). On the road we seem to play with a lot of confidence."

Semyon Varlamov will get the start in net. He stopped 32 shots in Wednesday's win over Montreal but has a 3.74 GAA over his last three against the Canucks, including the defeat earlier this month.