Bruins vs. Avalanche Preview

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BOSTON, MA (AP) - The Colorado Avalanche had bigger things than hockey on their minds during their most recent game - and it showed.

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They'll hope to move on without ailing forward Tomas Fleischmann and put forth a better effort Saturday against the Boston Bruins, who haven't lost in regulation on the road in more than a month.

Fleischmann has sparked Colorado (24-17-6) since arriving in a trade from Washington on Nov. 30, posting 21 points in 22 games - second on the team in that stretch to Matt Duchene.

According to NHL odds and oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made the Avalanche -113 money line favorites for Saturday's game against the Bruins. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 93% of more than 175 bets for this game have been placed on the Bruins +104.

But the Avalanche learned before Thursday's 5-1 home loss to Nashville that Fleischmann has blood clots in his lungs that will sideline him for the rest of the season. Colorado trailed 2-0 after one period and didn't score until Duchene's goal with 3:37 to play.

"That's tough," teammate Paul Stastny said. "I don't think you think much about hockey when you lose a player like that."

While Fleischmann takes blood thinners to deal with what general manager Greg Sherman called a "serious condition," the Avalanche hope they can replace his production. They've already dealt with injuries this season to Chris Stewart and Milan Hejduk, among others.

"Obviously, it's a big (blow)," Duchene said. "He has been one of our best forwards.

"It's tough to lose a guy like that, but we've been a team all year that's pressed forward when we've had injuries."

Colorado's offense should be tested by Boston, which has allowed an NHL-low 102 goals.

The Bruins (26-14-7) are 5-0-3 away from home since a 4-3 loss at Montreal on Dec. 16.

Tim Thomas was in net for that game, a rare blemish on a 12-1-4 road record for the runaway NHL leader in goals-against average (1.83) and save percentage (.945). In his last start, Thomas made a season-high 43 saves in Tuesday's 3-2 win at Carolina.

Tuukka Rask played in Thursday's 4-2 home loss to Buffalo. The Bruins, who averaged 4.8 goals while winning five of their previous six, had 40 shots but struggled to solve reigning Vezina Trophy winner Ryan Miller.

"If you look at our record for the last month and a half, two months, it's been pretty consistent," coach Claude Julien said. "I don't think it's a matter of exploding our hockey club because we had a tough night, it's a matter of acknowledging it and hopefully correcting it by playing a real good solid game next game."

While Boston has gotten nine goals from five different defensemen in its last five games, some of the team's top forwards are struggling. Milan Lucic leads the Bruins with 17 goals but has one in his last 14 games, while Nathan Horton has scored once on 46 shots in his last 17.

The duo combined for 26 goals in Boston's first 28 games.

Horton, stuffed on a breakaway against the Sabres, was a teammate of Avalanche goalie Craig Anderson for three seasons with Florida.

In his first season with Colorado in 2009-10, Anderson was 22-12-3 with a 2.41 GAA at home to help the Avs reach the playoffs. That success has eluded him lately; he's 1-5-1 with a 3.58 GAA in his last seven starts in Denver.

This is teams' only meeting this season and their first since the Avalanche won 4-3 in Boston on Oct. 12, 2009.

The Bruins, who play four of their next six against Western Conference opponents, are 1-3-2 in interconference matchups and none were true road games.

Colorado is 8-3-4 against the East.

Duchene, the Avs' leader with 19 goals and 44 points, is one point shy of 100 for his two-year career.

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