The Colorado Avalanche have grabbed the Northwest Division lead partly due to the play of their rookies. The Ottawa Senators, meanwhile, have used depth in overcoming injuries to key players to stay in the Eastern Conference playoff chase.
The two teams meet Wednesday night at Ottawa, where the Avalanche seek a fourth consecutive road victory and the Senators their third straight win overall.
Colorado (22-12-6) has received 67 points from its rookies, easily the most in the NHL as the New York Rangers are second with 42. Centers Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly -- the third and 33rd picks in the 2009 draft, respectively -- have been the primary contributors with a combined 14 goals and 27 assists. The Avalanche have also received steady production from left wing T.J. Galiardi and defenseman Ryan Wilson.
All four players are 21 or younger, with Duchene and O'Reilly still shy of their 19th birthdays.
"It's always nice to play with guys the same age that you get along with," O'Reilly told the Avalanche's official Web site. "They're going through the same experiences and it's easier because you have someone to help you if you're struggling in a certain area. I think it's one reason our young guys are successful right now."
Those struggles, though, have been limited on the road. The Avalanche play six of seven away from home starting with this game, and they are 11-7-4 outside the Pepsi Center. Colorado also is coming off a 4-1 victory over Dallas on Saturday in which Duchene and Galiardi each had an assist, and Peter Budaj turned aside 39 shots.
"He played excellent," Colorado coach Joe Sacco said of Budaj, who is expected to start for the Slovakian Olympic team. "He made some keys saves down the stretch."
Injured players Kyle Cumiskey and Marek Svatos are expected to travel with the team, but Sacco has not said if either will be available for this game.
Ottawa (20-15-4) is having its depth tested severely as its top two players -- center Jason Spezza and right wing and captain Daniel Alfredsson -- are sidelined with injuries. Pascal Leclaire, who earlier this season sat out due to a fractured cheekbone, overcame a shaky start to make 29 saves in Monday's 4-2 win over Montreal.
"(Leclaire) played great," said Mike Fisher, who has been the first-line center since Spezza hurt his right knee Dec. 15. "He made a number of big stops and had a great game for us and kept us in it. If it wasn't for him, especially after that first period, we would have been down by more than a few."
Peter Regin and Chris Neil each had a goal and an assist for the Senators, who are hoping to get Milan Michalek back on track. After consecutive multigoal games Nov. 28 and Dec. 1, Michalek has been held off the scoresheet his last four games and has one goal in his last 14.
The left wing, though, leads Ottawa with 16 goals.
Wojtek Wolski's goal 1:20 into overtime gave the Avalanche a 3-2 victory in the only meeting between the teams last season. Colorado is playing at Ottawa for the first time since a 2-1 win Oct. 19, 2006.