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The Colorado Avalanche and the Detroit Red Wings have become quite familiar with each other this month.
The Western Conference rivals meet for the third time in January on Sunday at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena.
Colorado (24-20-4) snapped a seven-game losing streak in the series with Detroit (30-14-6) with a 3-1 win on Jan. 20. The Avalanche celebrated their 500th sellout in Colorado by defeating the Red Wings, the same club they faced in the first game played in Denver after the franchise moved from Quebec in 1995.
The Red Wings won 4-3 in a shootout in the season's first meeting on Jan. 9. After Sunday, the teams won't play again until March 4 at Detroit.
Currently, the teams appear to be headed in different directions.
The Avalanche had won two straight games and six of nine before losing 5-4 in a shootout to Phoenix on Friday. Detroit, meanwhile, will look to avoid a fourth straight loss after winning five in a row.
Colorado scored three goals in the second period, but couldn't hold a 4-2 lead against the Coyotes.
"It's a hard lesson learned," said Colorado's Jordan Leopold, who scored in his first game back from a groin injury suffered on Dec. 11. "It stinks losing in a shootout. The bottom line is we can't give up two goals in the third period."
Goaltender Peter Budaj started his 12th straight game, stopping 25 shots, but was beaten by Ladislav Nagy in the shootout. Budaj has taken over the No. 1 goalie spot from veteran Jose Theodore, who is 9-10-1 with a 3.13 goals-against average.
According to the Denver Post, Theodore is expected to make his first start since Dec. 27 on Sunday. He's 1-2 with a 2.34 GAA against the Red Wings in his career.
Fresh off his four assists in Wednesday's All-Star game, Joe Sakic scored his team-leading 21st goal and the 595th of his career. He needs six more goals to tie Jari Kurri for 16th on the NHL's all-time list.
"It's a tough one, there's no question we lost a point tonight," said Sakic, who also extended his points streak to six games.
Detroit has played well at home despite its recent struggles. The Red Wings have won their last eight games at Joe Louis Arena, where they are 17-3-3 on the season. They have also won three straight home meetings with the Avalanche.
In order to keep those streaks going, Detroit will likely need to rediscover its offense. The Red Wings were outscored 8-3 on their just-completed 0-2-1 road trip, when they went 0-for-11 on the power play.
Johan Franzen, who has scored two of Detroit's last three goals, scored provided the offense in a 2-1 overtime loss at St. Louis on Friday, but the Blues' Bill Guerin scored on a rebound off a Chris Osgood save for the game-winner.
"I just tried to get over there as quick as I could," Osgood said. "He probably would have went far side if I would have of made it over there."
Valtteri Filppula scored Detroit's lone goal in the Jan. 20 loss to Colorado. Henrik Zetterberg, whose 19 goals lead the Red Wings, scored in both regulation and the shootout in the first meeting between the teams.
Zetterberg has been held without a point in his last three games.
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