Avalanche hope for Sakic to return against Kings - The Hockey News on Sports Illustrated

Avalanche hope for Sakic to return against Kings

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Colorado (8-10-0) at Los Angeles (8-8-2), 10:30 pm EST

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- The Colorado Avalanche have struggled

without captain Joe Sakic - even during goaltender Peter Budaj's

resurgent stretch.

After missing four games, Sakic hopes to rejoin the Avalanche

and provide support for Budaj when they take on the Los Angeles

Kings on Saturday.

According to the team's web site, Sakic traded in the bright

orange non-contact jersey he wore on Wednesday for a more

traditional gray practice sweater on Friday at practice,

signifying he could suit up for this contest after missing a

stretch in which the Avalanche are 2-2-0.

"I didn't like him in the orange the other day, so we got him

back in the grays," Avalanche head coach Tony Granato said. "He

practiced with his regular line. We'll see how he is tomorrow

after the travel and the morning skate. He's definitely going

on the trip and he'll definitely try and get ready tomorrow

morning; we'll see where he's at."

The 20-year veteran has two goals and 10 assists in 13 games

"When the guys look down the bench and look in the locker room

and see that he's in there, I think it makes everyone feel

better about themselves," Granato said. "It'll be nice to get

him back in there - I don't know if it'll be (Saturday) or not -

but certainly in the next couple of games."

Budaj, who began the season in unspectacular fashion, is 3-2-0

with a 1.37 goals-against average and a .960 save percentage

over his last five starts. Budaj has been forced to reckon with

a struggling offense, as the Avalanche have scored just five

goals in regulation during that stretch.

In the team's two-game losing skid, with both losses coming

against the Calgary Flames, Budaj has turned aside 79-of-83

shots.

Los Angeles, meanwhile, has also benefited from strong

goaltending since Erik Ersberg has taken the starting role from

Jason LaBarbera.

The 26-year-old Swede has surrendered two goals in each of his

last five games and has started eight straight. Ersberg made 19

saves in the Kings' 5-2 victory over the Washington Capitals on

Thursday en route to snapping a two-game losing streak.

Selected second overall in June's draft, defenseman Drew Doughty

scored his third goal in that win and has six points over the

last seven contests. The 18-year-old had one point in 11 of his

previous games.

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