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Wild Back in Action Against the Familiar Avalanche

(Sports Network) – Peter Forsberg is expected to help the struggling Avalanche sometime in the near future, but the Avs will try to win without any help from the former superstar when they visit the Minnesota Wild tonight at Xcel Energy Center.

After weeks of skating with the club, Forsberg announced Sunday that he was returning to the Avalanche after nearly 2 1/2 seasons away from the NHL, deciding endurance and chronic foot problems won’t be an issue. The 37-year- old signed a deal for the remainder of this season but it is unknown when he will make his debut.

It was revealed on Monday that Forsberg still needs a work visa before suiting up in an NHL game, but the Avs expect the former Hart Trophy winner’s return to happen sometime this week.

The Avalanche certainly need all the help they can get, as they have lost four straight and six of their last seven games and have been shut out in each of the last two outings. Colorado is currently tied of 13th in the Western Conference standings and is five points out of a playoff spot.

Colorado was handed a 3-0 loss by visiting Anaheim on Saturday and was white- washed again on Monday, losing by the same score in Phoenix. Ilya Bryzgalov made 26 saves and Radim Vrbata scored two goals to lead the Coyotes past the Avs in the most recent setback.

Craig Anderson made 23 saves for Colorado, giving up a goal in each period for the Avalanche.

“We’re going through a tough sequence right now,” Colorado head coach Joe Sacco said. “We just have to find a way to be better, there’s no question.”

Colorado was last shut out in consecutive games on April 11-12, 2009, but the Avs franchise has never been blanked in three straight tilts. The Avalanche have been shut out five times this season and all five blankings have come since Dec. 21.

The Avalanche are 11-9-3 as the visiting team this season and have dropped three out of four away from the Mile High City. They are making the second stop on a four-game road trip tonight.

Minnesota, meanwhile, had a three-game winning streak halted its last time out and also lost four just the second time in eight games.

The Wild are also currently out of the Western Conference playoff picture, but they are three points ahead of the Avs.

Minnesota recorded a 4-3 win in Colorado last Thursday to even the season series at two games apiece. The Wild have taken eight of 11 overall from the Avs, but Colorado has won two straight in St. Paul after dropping its previous four games at XEC.

Just like the Avalanche, the Wild were blanked by Bryzgalov and the Coyotes in their last contest. Minnesota lost a 1-0 regulation decision at Phoenix on Saturday.

Niklas Backstrom was the hard-luck loser, stopping 40-of-41 shots for the Wild, who are 12-11-2 as the home club this year.

Wild forward Matt Cullen missed Saturday’s game with an upper-body injury and is questionable for tonight. Minnesota defenseman Marek Zidlicky, who has missed the last 16 games with a shoulder injury, has returned to practice with and is considered day-to-day.

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