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Wild Finish Turkey Week in Colorado (SportsNet Preview)

(Sports Network) – The Colorado Avalanche will try to avoid a third straight loss when they welcome the Minnesota Wild for tonight’s Northwest Division clash at the Pepsi Center.

The Avalanche have lost two straight in regulation after posting victories in their previous four outings. Colorado’s only other three-game slide this year came in the form of an 0-2-1 stretch from Oct. 21-26.

Colorado won the opener of a three-game road trip last Saturday in Dallas, but has since lost tilts in Vancouver and Edmonton. Now, the Avalanche are home for two in a row — tonight’s test and Tuesday’s meeting with Atlanta. Colorado has won its last three on home ice and is 6-4-0 in Denver this season.

The Wild should have confidence playing in Colorado, however, as Minnesota has won three straight, five of six and six of its last eight games in Denver. The Wild won five of six overall in last year’s series and Minnesota has earned a victory eight times in the last 10 encounters. Todd Richards’ club is 4-3-1 as the road team this season.

The Avs were dealt a 3-2 loss in Edmonton on Thursday, one day after dropping a 4-2 decision in Vancouver. Taylor Hall, the top pick in the 2010 draft, scored the go-ahead goal with 29 seconds remaining in the third period, lifting Edmonton to the road win.

Kevin Shattenkirk and Matt Duchene lit the lamp for Colorado, while Peter Budaj made 21 saves in defeat.

The Avalanche found themselves down 2-0 just 3:51 into the game, but were able to tie the game by the opening minutes of the second period.

“We really didn’t start on time,” said Colorado head coach Joe Sacco. “We had a few guys that weren’t ready when the puck dropped and it ended up costing us a couple of goals.”

Shattenkirk, a 21-year-old rookie defenseman, is riding a five-game point streak into this evening’s contest. The 14th overall pick of the 2007 draft has three goals and three assists during the run, accounting for six of his seven points so far as an NHLer.

Budaj is expected to get the call in net again tonight with Craig Anderson still sidelined with a groin injury. Jason Bacashihua was recalled from Colorado’s AHL affiliate in Lake Erie to serve as the backup tonight.

Avs defenseman Adam Foote (knee) and forward David Koci (broken jaw) are questionable for tonight’s tilt.

Minnesota earned a home victory on Friday afternoon, clobbering the Nashville Predators, 5-2, at Xcel Energy Center. Martin Havlat scored twice and added an assist as Minnesota scored the game’s first four goals en route to the easy win.

Marek Zidlicky had a goal and two assists while Andrew Brunette and Nick Schultz each lit the lamp for the Wild on Friday. Jose Theodore stopped 32 shots in the win, improving his record to 3-2-0 on the season.

“When you take a 3-0 lead in the first period it takes a lot of pressure off of you as a goalie,” said Theodore. “It helps you to relax back there and allows you to focus on what you have to do to keep them from coming back in the game.”

Theodore is expected to return to his backup role tonight in favor of regular starter Niklas Backstrom, who is 14-3-2 in 19 career games against the Avalanche.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.