The Colorado Avalanche will make a few changes to its lineup tonight as the team begins a back-to-back set against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena.
Goaltender Hunter Miska will make his third start of the year, doing so against his former organization. The 25-year-old played on Wednesday with the American Hockey League's Colorado Eagles and made 25-of-26 saves in a 3-1 victory against the Tucson Roadrunners. The North Branch, Minnesota, native made his NHL debut in a relief appearance for the Coyotes in the 2018-19 campaign and spent two years total with the franchise before joining the Avalanche organization in the 2019-20 season.
After missing Wednesday's game while welcoming his second child into the world, Brandon Saad will be back in game action and is going to start the contest on a line with Nazem Kadri and Joonas Donskoi. Matt Calvert will move to a trio with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Tyson Jost. Andre Burakovsky, who is expected to skate in his 400th NHL contest, will skate on a combination with Valeri Nichushkin and J.T. Compher, while the threesome of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen will remain the same.
Colorado will also make a change on its backend with Jacob MacDonald entering the lineup and rookie Conor Timmins coming out. MacDonald, who turns 28 years old today, has played in four contests with the Avs this year and is averaging 15:27 of ice time per game.
Tonight is the first of eight meetings between the Avalanche and Coyotes and the first of four at Gila River Arena. All four matchups in Arizona will be part of a back-to-back as the Avs will also play in the desert on March 22-23.
Originally scheduled for seven back-to-back contests in 2020-21, the Avs will now play eight due to a couple of postponements. This weekend is the third of those eight sets and Colorado is 1-1-0 in the first game and 1-0-1 in the second.
Below is the Avalanche's projected lineup. The forward combinations and defensive pairings are subject to change.
92 Gabriel Landeskog - 29 Nathan MacKinnon - 96 Mikko Rantanen
20 Brandon Saad - 91 Nazem Kadri - 72 Joonas Donskoi
13 Valeri Nichushkin - 37 J.T. Compher - 95 Andre Burakovsky
11 Matt Calvert - 41 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - 17 Tyson Jost
7 Devon Toews - 8 Cale Makar
27 Ryan Graves - 49 Samuel Girard
4 Bowen Byram - 34 Jacob MacDonald
32 Hunter Miska
31 Philipp Grubauer
Taxi Squad: Sheldon Dries, Logan O'Connor, Dan Renouf, Kiefer Sherwood, Conor Timmins, Adam Werner
Injury Report: Pavel Francouz (lower body), Dennis Gilbert (upper body), Erik Johnson (upper body)