|NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Columbus Blue Jackets Preview, Picks, Odds|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Wednesday, 05 December 2007 02:56|
The Avalanche look to continue their almost complete dominance over the Blue Jackets when the teams meet Wednesday at Nationwide Arena.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Columbus -128 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 5.5 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 62% of bets for this game have been placed on Columbus -128 (View NHL Bet Percentages).
Despite winning two of its last three games away from Denver, Colorado (14-11-1) has struggled on the road this season, going 4-8-1. The Avalanche fell to 10-3-0 at home Monday with a 3-2 loss to San Jose.
Mike Grier's winning goal deflected in off Avalanche defenseman John-Michael Liles with 11:30 remaining in the third period, leaving the Colorado franchise two wins shy of 1,000.
"Every game is important, whether it's game 35 or game 82," Avalanche left wing Ryan Smyth told the team's official Web site. "It's important that you find ways to come up with wins or get a point or two."
The Avalanche, who have alternated wins and losses in their last six games, earned a 5-2 victory at Los Angeles on Saturday. Colorado hasn't had consecutive road victories since Oct. 23 -26, and will look to start developing some consistency when it takes on Columbus (12-10-5).
The Avalanche have won five straight at Nationwide Arena, outscoring the Blue Jackets 21-6 during that stretch. Colorado is 10-0-1 with one tie all-time at Columbus, and leads the all-time series 22-1-1 with one draw since the Blue Jackets entered the league in 2000-01.
The Avalanche have won two straight and nine of the last 10 meetings, including a 5-1 home victory Oct. 13.
Colorado captain Joe Sakic recorded a hat trick in that win, but the Avalanche may be without him Wednesday. He was scratched for a second straight game Monday with a groin injury and is doubtful to play against Columbus.
Sakic, second on the team with 22 points, has 13 goals and 21 assists in 23 games against the Blue Jackets.
Milan Hejduk scored for Colorado on Monday to extend his point streak to four games, during which he has three goals and three assists. Hejduk has recorded consecutive multipoint efforts against Columbus, and had two goals and an assist in the Oct. 13 matchup.
Columbus dropped the opener of its five-game homestand Monday, 2-1 in a shootout to Dallas for its third defeat in four games at Nationwide Arena.
"We had nothing at the end," Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We were unlucky not to get two points because we were ahead in the shootout. We squeezed everything we could."
The Blue Jackets lost for the third time in four games overall, but they did get Pascal Leclaire back in net. Leclaire had missed the previous two games with a slight groin pull, but made 33 saves in his return.
"He was unbelievable," left wing Rick Nash told the Blue Jackets' Web site. "That's how good teams need to win but we have to get him more goals."
Leclaire is the NHL leader with six shutouts, but he's 0-4-1 with a 3.76 goals-against average in five starts versus Colorado.
Nash, who has 16 goals on the season, had an assist for the second straight game Monday, but hasn't scored a goal in his last five contests. He has four goals and three assists in 15 games against Colorado.
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