The Colorado Avalanche return from their brief holiday break and "welcome" their rivals, the Detroit Red Wings, to the Pepsi Center. The Avalanche struggled to muster any offense in the two games before Christmas, losing badly to the Los Angeles Kings and the Minnesota Wild. Tonight, they hope the return of Milan Hejduk and Cody McLeod will spark some life back into an offense that has only scored one goal in the past two games (after scoring no less than three goals in each of their previous eight games). Goalie Craig Anderson will get the night off after being pulled against Minnesota due to ineffectiveness. Backup Peter Budaj has solid career numbers against Detroit -- including a shootout victory in Detroit earlier this season -- and will get the start in net.
The Detroit Red Wings remain atop the Western Conference, but not without some struggles. They have been surprisingly mediocre of late, going 2-2-1 in their past five games. They received some bad news this week, as forward Dan Cleary suffered a broken ankle in their December 26 victory over the Minnesota Wild. Cleary joins top forward Pavel Datsyuk (broken wrist) on the injured list and both are expected be out of action for at least the next month.
Colorado and Detroit have split their two meetings on the season, both in Detroit. The Red Wings will return to Denver for their series finale on January 10.
Peter Budaj and Chris Osgood are expected to start in net.
Puck drops at 7pm MST.