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Game 71 Preview: Avalanche go Duck hunting tonight

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Second game of a back-to-back and rumor has it that Varly won't play!

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Miracles do happen, and no, I'm not talking about the Avalanche possibly pulling off this run for a playoff berth. I'm talking about the inexplicable overwork of Semyon Varlamov and the possibility that backup Reto Berra will do his backup job and take tonight's game.

While some lament the fact that Berra didn't play last night against the easy team, the consensus is that pulling out that win was actually more important and playing Varly against Arizona was the right move. Tonight the Avalanche face a formidable foe in the Anaheim Ducks, and a win is already doubtful. Why not throw Berra into the lion's den and cross your fingers?

Currently, there aren't any tweets from morning skate indicating lines. If Joey Hishon's elbow is copacetic, I suspect he'll play in place of Danny Briere (speaking of which, how serendipitous was it that he played his first NHL game for the Coyotes against the Avalanche and played a milestone game for the Avalanche against the Coyotes? Kinda cool, but not cool enough to remain in the line up because...) since Freddie Hamilton, the other potential nacho-eater, had a great game last night and tallied that first NHL goal. Generally coaches reward things like that.

Anyway, still no word on Erik Johnson's return, so we'll probably see the same pairings as last night.

From the Avalanche website:

Season series: The Colorado Avalanche come to Honda Center for the first time this season; the club will be back again in two weeks. The Anaheim Ducks won the first game in early November when Cam Fowler scored the go-ahead goal midway through the second period.

Avalanche team scope: Colorado continues to stay on the periphery of contention for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. The Avalanche held off the Arizona Coyotes 5-2 on Thursday and is seven points behind the Winnipeg Jets, who are in the final playoff spot. Colorado has won three in a row and is 6-1-0 in March. The Avalanche hasn't won four in a row all season. Semyon Varlamov made 28 saves against Arizona, and with Colorado desperate for every point, he's likely to get the call against Anaheim.

Ducks team scope: Anaheim is cruising to the Pacific Division title, with a 13-point lead on the second-place Vancouver Canucks, but the Ducks are in battles for the top record in the Western Conference as well as for the Presidents' Trophy. Coach Bruce Boudreau opted not to have defenseman Sami Vatanen (leg) rejoin the lineup Wednesday against the Los Angeles Kings, but might bring him back against the speedy Avalanche. Despite his 15-game absence, Vatanen leads Anaheim defensemen with 12 goals and 34 points.

Game can be seen on TV: ALT, FS-W at 8:00 pm MT.