Avalanche attempt to leap over Wild in West race
Wednesday, 02.01.2012 / 3:32 PMWILD (24-19-7) at AVALANCHE (26-24-2)
TV: FS-N (HD), FS-WI (HD), ALT (HD)
Minnesota 3-6-1; Colorado 3-6-1
The Wild are 2-1-0 against the Avalanche this season. The teams split the two previous games at Minnesota, while the Wild took the one game played at Denver's Pepsi Center.
The last playoff position in the Western Conference is up for grabs with Minnesota (55 points) holding a one-point advantage over Colorado. There is still plenty of season left to be played, but the Wild will try to keep their hot streak going against the Avs, as they won five of their last six games against the Northwest Division rival.
Minnesota will look to bounce back from a shocking loss to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday. The Wild had a 4-1 lead with 11 minutes left in the third period, but the Preds battled back with four unanswered goals to take the game 5-4 in regulation. The Preds' Mike Fisher tallied the winning goal with 21 seconds remaining in the game off a long-distance shot from the Wild's right faceoff circle that somehow snuck underneath goalie Josh Harding
"If you've ever been punched in the stomach really hard, that's pretty much what this one felt like," coach Mike Yeo said after the game.
The Avs will try to break free of a current three-game losing streak as they face a Minnesota team they have struggled against recently. Colorado will also try to improve upon Tuesday's showing in which it fell behind 2-0 in the first period to the Northwest's last-place Oilers and eventually lost 3-2. Forward Gabriel Landeskog
tallied on Tuesday for his 11th goal of the season to inch up to seventh place on the rookie goal scoring list, but it wasn't enough to help his team to victory.
"There wasn't enough (desperation)," coach Joe Sacco said of his team's effort on Tuesday.
Landeskog has points in four straight games, with 2 goals and 3 assists over that span. … Wild forward Dany Heatley
is in the midst of a three-game points streak with 3 goals and 3 assists during that stretch.
Avs forward Matt Duchene
(knee) is still recovering and is several weeks away from officially rejoining the team for game play. … The Wild are seeing their captain Mikko Koivu
(shoulder) and winger Guillaume Latendresse
(post-concussion symptoms) return to practice, but no set dates have been given for either player's return to game action.
The Wild won the last three games at Pepsi Center and maintain a 9-1-2 record in their last 12 games played there.
Sacco is aware every game is extremely important down the stretch, and he let reporters know exactly how he felt following the tough loss to Edmonton.
"This is playoff hockey for us right now and we need to have more urgency right from the start. You have to be ready to start on time in this League. This is a no-excuse business," he said.