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Avalanche Begins Road Trip In Big D

Colorado faces Dallas for the first time since Opening Night

by Danielle Bernstein @danibernstein / ColoradoAvalanche.com

After a four-game homestand, the Colorado Avalanche plays three straight games away from Pepsi Center, beginning with a Thursday night matchup with the Dallas Stars. It will be the second tilt between the Central Division rivals-the Avs and Stars met in Colorado's opening night in Denver-and the first meeting of the season at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

The Avs are 39-27-16 all-time against Dallas (since 1995-96) and 18-17-6 on the road in the series. Colorado has won four of the last five meetings in Dallas and nine of the last 11 overall.

Last Time Out

The Avs scored four goals--their biggest offensive game since a 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Oct. 20--en route to a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night. Semyon Varlamov was strong in net once again, finishing with 32 saves. Patrick Wiercioch and Rene Bourque scored within 22 seconds of each other early in the second period for the fastest two goals the Avalanche has scored this season.

The Stars also last played on Tuesday, falling 2-1 in overtime to the New Jersey Devils. It was the second straight OT loss for Dallas. Patrick Eaves was the lone goal scorer for the Stars, and Antti Niemi made 31 saves.

Video: Keefe and Rycroft preview tonight's game

How They Stack Up

Rene Bourque has provided a boost to the Avalanche offense as of late. With four goals in his last four games, Bourque has now recorded five markers on the season and is ranked second on the team behind Matt Duchene's six tallies. Blake Comeau's impact after returning from a groin injury on Tuesday was also evident. In addition to scoring a goal, Comeau delivered a game-high six hits.

"It's great. It doesn't matter who's doing it, you have to win games and you have to score goals to win games," said Matt Duchene of the recent goal output by his teammates. "Our production is one of the worst in the league. That's something we have to get better at."

The Stars have been led offensively by Tyler Seguin, whose 20 points are tied for third in the league in scoring. His 13 assists are tied for second.

The Avs' highest scoring game this season was against Dallas in the opener, when they recorded six goals and the teams combined for 11. The Stars' five goals in that Oct. 15 meeting is their second highest total this season.

Defensively, the Avalanche has allowed 2.80 goals per game and Dallas 3.35 goals per game.

Player to Watch

Colorado: Defenseman Fedor Tyutin

Tyutin was moved to Colorado's top defensive pairing on Tuesday night, playing alongside Erik Johnson, and recorded four hits and two blocked shots.

"Toots (Tyutin) has been playing real well. We weren't having a whole lot of success in some of our games. [Tuesday] night we put Tyutin out there," said head coach Jared Bednar. "I think it's good to reward guys when they play well and vice versa to try and make sure guys are always on top of their game so there's a little bit of an internal push for ice time."

Dallas: Center Tyler Seguin

Seguin tallied two goals and an assist in the first game of the 2016-17 series on Oct. 15 and has registered 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 14 career games against the Avs.  

Lineup Notes

Much was up in the air following Wednesday's practice at Family Sports Center, largely due to the uncertainly regarding Matt Duchene's status as he comes back from a head injury.

"We did some battling at the end of practice. He looked like he was working hard," Bednar said of his top-scoring forward after practice Wednesday. "Getting hit, taking hits, giving hits. Now we just have to see, as long as he feels good later today and tomorrow, then he should be able to play for us."

What Bednar was certain about was that goaltender Semyon Varlamov will start in net. Varlamov has allowed just two goals on 78 shots he's faced in his last two starts.

The Details

Thursday's game starts at 6:30 p.m. MT and can be watched live on Altitude and heard on Altitude Sports Radio AM 950 and at ColoradoAvalanche.com.

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