Final OT

Series (Game 1 of 1)

Colorado leads 1-0

Game 1: Friday, December 21st
Rangers3Final
OT
Avalanche4

Rangers 3

(17-14-4, 38 pts)

Avalanche 4

(20-13-2, 42 pts)

9:00 PM ET, December 21, 2007

Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado

1 2 3 OT T
NYR 1 2 0 03
COL 0 2 1 14

W. Wolski (Avalanche - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

M. Hejduk (Avalanche - RW): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

P. Budaj (Avalanche - G): Saves: 20, Save Pct.: .870

Rangers-Avalanche Preview

STATS LLC

Little has kept the Colorado Avalanche from winning recently. An increasing injury list, though, might.

The Avalanche will be short-handed again at the Pepsi Center on Friday night as they look for their seventh straight win over the New York Rangers.

Colorado captain Joe Sakic will miss his 11th straight game with a groin injury, and doesn't seem close to returning.

"Joe hasn't skated. He tried it there Saturday and he knew it wasn't right," Avs coach Joel Quenneville told the team's official Web site. "That was his test and kind of gave himself a baseline to figure out where he's at, but he's not ready to get on the ice yet."

Sakic, who has spent his entire 19-year career with the Colorado franchise, had missed just one game in three seasons before this injury. The Avalanche (19-13-2) also played their last game, a 2-1 overtime loss to Anaheim on Wednesday, without left wing Ryan Smyth and defenseman Jordan Leopold

Neither is expected to suit up Friday.

Leopold had missed 21 games with an injured wrist, but after returning for just three games, is now suffering from a cut on his leg. Smyth, tied with Milan Hejduk for second on the team with 28 points, is day-to-day with a stiff neck.

Before the injury, the line of Smyth, Hejduk and Paul Stastny had combined for 16 goals and 22 assists in nine games. Stastny leads Colorado with 15 goals and 26 assists this season.

The Avs had won three in a row and five of six before losing to Anaheim. Goalie Peter Budaj will likely earn his fifth straight start for Colorado on Friday, having allowed two or fewer goals in each of the past four games.

"He looks quick. He's anticipating well and his rebound control has been very efficient," Quenneville said. "He's following the puck, tracking it very well."

Budaj has never faced the Rangers.

Colorado, which is opening a four-game homestand, has won three in a row there to improve to 13-3-0 in Denver this season.

The Avs have played the Rangers (17-14-3) just once since 2003, winning 2-1 at Madison Square Garden in December 2005. Colorado has won six straight against New York since January 2002.

The Rangers lost 6-3 to Minnesota on Thursday, allowing five goals to Marian Gaborik and falling to 2-5-1 in their last eight. After making 18 saves to shut out Pittsburgh Tuesday, New York's Henrik Lundqvist again faced 18 shots, but was pulled in the third period after allowing six goals.

In his last six games, Lundqvist has allowed at least four goals in four losses but also recorded two shutout wins. Backup Stephen Valiquette has seen action in four of the past seven games.

"When you let in (that many) goals it's never fun, it's always tough," Lundqvist said. "You have to look at the goals, too. Is it me? Is it just a great performance by their guys? Then you just move on. Sometimes the key is not to think too much."

The Rangers have played back-to-back games just four times this season, going 1-3-0.

Rangers center Chris Drury played his first four seasons in Colorado, but hasn't visited Denver as an opponent in more than two years. He's scored a goal in each of his last two visits, both while playing for Buffalo.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

ESPNNewYork.com