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Ducks Head To Colorado To Face Sliding Avalanche

(Sports Network) - Opposing defense's already know what Anaheim's top line can do. That is making Lubomir Visnovsky's contributions from the blue line that more important. Visnovsky and the Ducks will try to better their playoff chances with a fifth straight victory over the fading Colorado Avalanche tonight at the Pepsi Center. Anaheim's trio of Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf have combined for 80 goals and 182 points this season, with both Perry and Ryan breaking the 30- goal mark. However, it has been Visnovsky that has keyed the offense as of late.

The 34-year-old defenseman scored twice in Wednesday's 5-2 victory over the Rangers, and coupled with last week's hat trick versus the Stars he is the first blueliner in Ducks history to have five goals over a three-game span. Perry also scored twice to give him a career-high 33 goals on the season, while Ryan finished with a a goal and three assists. Dan Ellis turned aside 30 shots as the Ducks won for the fourth time in five games to wrap a seven-game homestand 4-2-1.

"The effort was all around. It was a great win. We felt pretty confident," Ryan said. Though last in the Pacific Division with 77 points, the Ducks are just two back of the Kings for the eighth spot in the Western Conference. Anaheim will return home for two games after this contest and is 21-11-2 as the host this year compared to just 15-15-3 as the guest. However, the club has won six of its last eight on the road.

While the Ducks have been getting excellent production from Visnovsky, whose 54 points are tied for second among all NHL defenseman, the Avalanche could be without their high-producing blueliner in John-Michael Liles. Liles, who is tied for eighth among defenders with 42 points, suffered a leg injury in Tuesday's loss to Minnesota and did not practice yesterday, leaving him questionable for this contest.

Paul Stastny and Kevin Porter scored in the 5-2 loss to the Wild, who scored three times in the third period. Peter Budaj made 20 saves as Colorado lost for the sixth straight time while also dropping its 16th game in the past 17. "The results aren't satisfying, but the game itself was," Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco said. "There were a lot of things we did well in the game. I thought the guys competed hard for the most part."

Colorado, which sits 19 points out of a playoff spot with 16 games to play, returns home before starting a four-game swing in Nashville on Saturday. The Avs have lost seven straight as the host and haven't won at the Pepsi Center since Jan. 24. The Avalanche have also dropped four straight to the Ducks, including a pair of games this season. Perry had a hat trick in the first meeting in Colorado, a 3-0 Anaheim win on Feb. 5 that was the Ducks' fifth win in a row at the Pepsi Center.

Ellis is 4-1-0 with a 2.01 goals-against average in his career versus the Avs, while Brian Elliott will get the start for Colorado and is 1-0-1 with a 1.85 GAA when facing the Ducks.

For more news and information on tonight's game, be sure to read Anaheim Calling.