TIME: Thursday, 8 p.m.
The Wild, sitting in 10th place in the conference, face their Northwest Division rivals for the fifth time this season.
In their five-year history, the Wild have dropped 17 of 25 meetings with the Avalanche, including three of four this season. Including Thursday, the clubs meet four more times, and three times between now and March 5.
That could be a problem for Minnesota, which is battling to keep pace in the race for the postseason.
The Wild, though, have rebounded from a three-game losing streak with three straight wins. Marian Gaborik and Pascal Dupuis each scored two of Minnesota's franchise-record five power-play goals to lift the Wild to a 5-1 win over slumping Los Angeles on Tuesday.
Gaborik, who also had an assist, has a goal in each of his last five games, and nine of 11.
"I don't know what's pushing him, but he certainly plays a great game now," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. "He's exactly what we always wanted him to be."
Brian Rolston added a goal and an assist for Minnesota, which overcame a scoreless first period with three straight power-play goals in the second. The Wild finished 5-for-10 with the man advantage.
"Special teams were really important tonight," said Minnesota's Manny Fernandez, who made 19 saves. "It's huge. The team's been playing really confident, and any time you score five or six goals, you should get the win."
The Avalanche ended their power-play drought and avoided a third consecutive loss with a 5-2 victory over Edmonton on Tuesday.
After going 0-for-15 on the power play in defeats to Detroit and Nashville, Colorado went 2-for-6 in its final home game before the two-week break for the Turin Olympics. The Avalanche, fifth in the NHL in power-play percentage, have scored a power-play goal in 44 of their 56 games.
Alex Tanguay had a goal and two assists, while Milan Hejduk and Brett McLean also scored for Colorado, which despite being in fourth place in the Northwest is just a few points out of first in the tightly bunched division.
"(Joe) Sakic, Tanguay and Hejduk have been healthy and Tanguay has been the one producing on a consistent basis," Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville said. "We have been getting a lot of scoring across the board this year, and if we get the power play and that line scoring, those guys can really pick it up."
Sakic had two assists for the Avalanche, who moved into seventh place in the conference.
STANDINGS: Avalanche - 66 points, 4th place, 5 PB, Northwest Division. Wild - 60 points, 5th place, 11 PB, Northwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Avalanche - Marek Svatos, 30 goals; Tanguay, 41 assists and 65 points; Ian Laperriere, 86 PIM. Wild - Rolston and Gaborik, 24 goals; Rolston, 36 assists and 60 points; Derek Boogaard, 113 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Avalanche - Power play: 20.0 percent (71 for 355), 5th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.8 percent (263 for 310), 7th. Wild - Power play: 18.3 percent (58 for 317), 11th. Penalty killing: 88.8 percent (277 for 312), 1st.
GOALTENDERS: Avalanche - David Aebischer (21-12-2, 2 SO, 3.12 GAA); Peter Budaj (6-5-4, 2.73). Wild - Fernandez (23-8-3, 1, 2.13); Dwayne Roloson (5-16-1, 1, 3.00).
SEASON SERIES: Avalanche, 3-1.
LAST MEETING: Jan. 31; Avalanche, 3-2. At Denver, Aebischer had 27 saves en route to his franchise-record ninth win in January. Gaborik scored for the Wild, who lost their third straight.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Avalanche - 12-12-1 on the road; Wild - 17-11-1 at home.
|Apr 09 '06||MIN 5 at COL 2||D. Tjarnqvist|
|Mar 05 '06||COL 3 at MIN 5||M. Gaborik|
|Feb 28 '06||MIN 2 at COL 4||M. Hejduk|
|Feb 09 '06||COL 2 at MIN 1||J. Sakic|
|Jan 31 '06||MIN 2 at COL 3||P. Brisebois|
|Jan 05 '06||COL 4 at MIN 2||A. Tanguay|
|Dec 23 '05||COL 3 at MIN 5||M. Gaborik|
|Dec 22 '05||MIN 3 at COL 4||M. Svatos|