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Game 68 Preview: Avalanche at Senators

The Avalanche kick off a three game Canadian road trip with an afternoon tilt against the Ottawa Senators.

Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo

Only 15 games left on the docket for these 2013-2014 Colorado Avalanche before they are truly battle tested in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. At the end of the day, this season is going to be considered a success regardless of the Avs playoff seed, but inside the Avalanche locker room players have set their sights considerably higher. The Avalanche sit just 8 points back of the division leading St. Louis Blues with a game in hand and one head--to-head matchup left on the schedule. So while the Blues may seem out of reach due to their success against the Avalanche this season, they, and the division title, are still very much in reach. On the other side of the Avalanche, the Chicago Blackhawks are tied with the Avalanche in games played, but trail by 1 point. The Avalanche have a large ROW lead over the Blackhawks and dominated the head-to-head series this season, so if they can earn within one point of the Blackhawks over these last 15 games, they will secure home ice in the first round. It's amazing to consider just how far this team has come in such a short time.

On Friday night the Avalanche faced a fired up Ducks team looking for a big performance after getting whipped 7-2 by the Calgary Flames just two days prior. That game didn't go so well as the Ducks rattled off six second period goals, chasing Varlamov from the net and handing the Avalanche just their second loss in the last six games. This afternoon the Avalanche face a similar challenge, as the Ottawa Senators look to respond from a 5-4 OT loss to the Montreal Canadiens last night. It was no blowout, but you can be sure that the Senators will be looking to respond in a big way since they blew a 3 goal lead with just 3:21 left in the game. Robin Lehner was the goaltender of record last night, so it's doubtful that he will play again today against the Avalanche. According to the Ottawa Sun Craig Anderson could be ready to return to game action following a shoulder injury on Monday. If Anderson isn't ready to face his old team, Nathan Lawson is the Senators 3rd goalie.

Ottawa Projected Lines:

Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Ales Hemsky

Clarke MacArthur - Kyle Turris - Bobby "Intentscety" Ryan

Mike Hoffman - Mika Zibanejad - Erik Condra

Colin Greening - Zack Smith - Chris Neil

Marc Methot - Erik Karlsson

Chris Phillips - Cody Ceci

Jared Cowen - Eric Gryba

Craig Anderson (likely)

Injured: Mark Stone, Craig Andersong (possibly)

Colorado Projected Lines:

Ryan O`Reilly - Matt Duchene - Jamie McGinn

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon/John Mitchell

Max Talbot - Marc Andre Cliche - Cody McLeod

Paul Carey - Brad Malone - Paul Carey Patrick Bordeleau

Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson

Nick Holden - Andre Benoit

Nate Guenin - Tyson Barrie

Semyon Varlamov

Scratches: Cory Sarich, Ryan Wilson, Reto Berra

Injured: Paul Stastny, P.A. Parenteau, Alex Tanguay

Injury notes: Paul Stastny has joined the Avalanche for their three game Canadian road trip, but is unlikely to play today in Ottawa.

Puck Drops at 5:00 PM EST, 3:00 PM MST on Altitude