The Colorado Avalanche closes out a short two-game road trip on Thursday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. It's the second and final game of the 2017-18 series between the clubs, who last met on Jan. 4 at Pepsi Center, where the Avalanche earned a 2-0 victory.
The Avs are 38-14-4 all-time against the Blue Jackets and 18-6-3 on the road in the series, including wins in three of the last four at Nationwide Arena. Colorado is 18-10-1 against the Eastern Conference in 2017-18.
Last Time Out
The Avalanche earned a point for a second-straight game on Tuesday night in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. Colorado trailed 1-0 after the opening frame but evened the score in the second period with a Nathan MacKinnon power-play goal, which ultimately forced overtime after a scoreless final 20 minutes. Jonathan Toews scored just nine seconds into the overtime period to give Chicago the win. The Avs held a 34-27 advantage in shots, including an 18-7 margin in the second period.
Columbus also played on Tuesday night, beating the Western Conference-leading Vegas Golden Knights 4-1 on home ice. The Blue Jackets opened the scoring just 16 seconds into the game and never trailed. Vegas knotted the game at one early in the second, but Columbus scored three unanswered to secure the win. Artemi Panarin and Pierre-Luc Dubois each had a goal and two assists to lead the Blue Jackets, and Joonas Korpisalo made 37 saves.
Last Time They Met
Jonathan Bernier made 34 saves to lead the Avalanche to a 2-0 win over Columbus on Jan. 4, the fourth-straight win in what would be a 10-game winning streak for the Avalanche. Mikko Rantanen notched a power-play goal and an assist, while Matt Nieto tallied Colorado's second marker. The Avs were 1-for-3 on the power play and held Columbus scoreless on three man-advantage chances.
What to Watch
Both teams enter Thursday's game in the thick of the playoff race and fighting for their postseason lives. After Tuesday's win, the Blue Jackets pulled two points ahead of the surging Florida Panthers to take the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Colorado is tied with the Los Angeles Kings with 77 points for the second wild card in the West and St. Louis and Calgary trail by two and three points, respectively.
The Avs' seven short-handed tallies this season are tied for seventh in the league, but all of them have come away from Denver, the most road short-handed goals in the NHL. Blake Comeau leads the team with three shorthanded markers, which is tied for second among all league skaters.
Special Teams Matchup
The Avalanche has scored a power-play goal in a season-high five consecutive games entering Thursday's contest, going 5-for-22 (22.7 percent) over that stretch. Columbus has killed 24-of-27 power-play opportunities over its last 11 games, including all eight chances through its last three outings.
Player to Watch
Colorado: Defenseman Tyson Barrie
Barrie takes a four-game point streak into Thursday's contest, and the blueliner has accumulated six points (two goals, four assists) in that stretch and 12 points (three goals, nine assists) over his last eight games. His 22 points on the power play this season ties him for third among league defenseman.
Columbus: Defenseman Zach Werenski
The blueliner has registered four points (two goals, two assists) in his last four games and with a goal on Tuesday, became the franchise's new leader in goals by a defenseman in a single season.
Thursday's contest against the Blue Jackets begins at 5 p.m. MT and can be watched live on Altitude TV. The radio broadcast is available on Altitude Sports Radio AM 950 or online at ColoradoAvalanche.com.