Buffalo has put together its highest-scoring stretch of the season in back-to-back wins, and will look to extend that surge Tuesday night as it begins a three-game road trip in Denver.
The Avalanche (20-14-5) had the NHL's top offense through Dec. 19, averaging 3.61 goals during a 19-10-4 start that had them sitting atop the Northwest Division.
A few weeks later, Colorado is in second place -- closer to fourth-place Calgary than to division-leading Vancouver. The Avalanche dropped to 1-4-1 in their last six games with a 2-1 loss to the Canucks on Sunday -- their fourth straight home defeat.
Colorado has scored nine goals during the last six games overall, going 2 for 21 on the power play during that stretch.
"It's a fine line," forward Kevin Porter told the team's official website. "... We don't want to panic, but we definitely have to come out and play well against Buffalo (on Tuesday) night. We need to start getting on a winning streak here, because the Western Conference is so tight."
The East has clearer separation among its top eight teams. Buffalo isn't one of them, sitting in 12th -- nine points behind eighth-place Montreal.
If the Sabres (16-18-4) can keep producing goals the way they have in their last two games, they could be poised to climb the standings. Defenseman Mike Weber scored the first two goals of his career last Tuesday in a 4-2 win at Edmonton. On Saturday, Drew Stafford's hat trick led the way to a wild 7-6 comeback victory over Boston.
"We're trying to find what we think will work," coach Lindy Ruff said. "It's something to build off. Offensively, when you score six goals, the belief to score should be there now."
Buffalo scored once on the power play Saturday to improve to 8 for 39 (20.5 percent) in its last nine games. The Sabres might be able to find more success with the man advantage at the Pepsi Center. The Avalanche have allowed visitors to score 36.7 percent of the time (11 for 30) on the power play since Dec. 1, easily the league's worst home rate in that span.
Peter Budaj will get the nod in net for Colorado in place of starter Craig Anderson, who's 1-4-0 with a 3.63 goals-against average in his last five starts.
Budaj, who will make just his second start in the past month, hasn't been any better than Anderson. He's 1-1-2 with a 4.18 GAA in four starts since Nov. 27.
Budaj, however, is 2-1-0 with a 1.46 GAA in three career games against Buffalo.
Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller is 0-1-1 with a 1.93 GAA in two starts versus Colorado, but the reigning Vezina Trophy winner has been having a rough time lately, going 4-5-0 with a 3.73 GAA in his last nine starts overall.
Colorado's Milan Hejduk will look to keep Miller's misery going. Hejduk has four goals and eight assists during a nine-game point streak versus Buffalo.
He had an assist and a shootout goal at HSBC Arena on Jan. 9 in the Avalanche's 4-3 win, their third straight in the series.
AccuScore has powered more than 10,000 simulations for every NHL game on ESPN.com, calculating how each team's performance changes in response to game conditions and opponent's abilities. Each game is simulated and the game is replayed a minimum of 10,000 times to generate forecasted winning percentages.