AVALANCHE (40-17-5) at RED WINGS (28-21-12)
TV: NHLN-US, ALT, FS-D
Last 10: Colorado 7-3-0; Detroit 5-3-2
Season series: This is the second and final game between the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings. Jonas Gustavsson's 38 saves led Detroit to a 4-2 win on Oct. 17 that handed Colorado coach Patrick Roy his first loss.
Big story: The Avalanche reached the 40-win mark faster than any team in franchise history with their 4-2 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday that moved them to within one point of the defending Stanley Cup champions for second place in the Central Division.
The Red Wings' 4-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils dropped them from the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. Thin at center and with a streak of 22 consecutive playoff seasons on the line, the Red Wings acquired center David Legwand from the Nashville Predators at the NHL Trade Deadline.
Avalanche: Colorado is staking its claim as a top Stanley Cup contender. The Avalanche are 13-5-0 in their past 18 games, 17-6-1 in their past 24, and have the most wins (16) and points (33) in the League since Dec. 31.
At the deadline, Colorado added depth in goal by importing Reto Berra from the Calgary Flames.
"We wanted to make sure that if something happens to [starter Semyon Varlamov], we have a good guy there if [Jean-Sebastien Giguere's] back doesn't hold up," executive vice president of hockey operations Joe Sakic told reporters. "We have someone we know is a very good goalie. If [Varlamov] went down, the prospects aren't ready, so we wanted to make sure we solidified that goalie situation for the next few years."
Red Wings: Detroit sent forward Patrick Eaves, prospect Calle Jarnkrok and a third-round draft pick (which becomes a second-round pick if the Red Wings make the playoffs) to Nashville for Legwand, a Grosse Pointe, Mich., native who played his entire 15-year career with the Predators and is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent.
"With Zetterberg, with Datsyuk, with Helm, and with Weiss, the uncertainty of where we're at, we felt it was important to get a bona-fide center," general manager Ken Holland said. "The news in the last 48 hours, that all factored into acquiring a center. The one we acquired is a local boy, so if we want to keep him beyond this year, we think it's reasonable that can happen, because he had to waive a no-trade clause to come here. He wanted to come home."
Who's hot: Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon's 12-game point streak is the longest by a rookie since Paul Stastny's 20 in 2006-07, and from an 18-year-old since Wayne Gretzky's 12 in 1979-80. Varlamov is 15-3-1 in his past 19 starts. Forward Matt Duchene is on a five-game point streak (two goals, six assists) … Red Wings forward Johan Franzen has eight points (four goals, four assists) in his past four games. Forward Daniel Alfredsson has four points (two goals, two assists) in his past five games.
Injury report: Avalanche forward Alex Tanguay (hip surgery) is out for the season … Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk (sore right knee) has been shut down for the next three weeks. Center Darren Helm (upper body) will miss at least the next two games. Forward Daniel Cleary (sprained knee) is out for at least a week. Defenseman Jakub Kindl (lower body) and forwards Stephen Weiss (sports hernia surgery) and Henrik Zetterberg (back surgery) are on injured reserve.
Follow Jon Lane on Twitter: @JonLaneNHL
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