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Avalanche Hosts Canucks Saturday Night

Colorado faces Vancouver for the first time this season

by Danielle Bernstein @danibernstein / ColoradoAvalanche.com

The Colorado Avalanche continues a season-long five-game homestand on Saturday, hosting the Vancouver Canucks at Pepsi Center. It's the first of three meetings in the season series and the first of two that will be played in the Mile High City. The Canucks make a second appearance on Jan. 25.

The Avalanche is 56-39-15 (since 1995-96) against its former Northwest Division rivals and 6-4-0 in the last 10 games of the series. Colorado was 1-2-0 last season against Vancouver.

Last Time Out

Despite taking a 3-2 lead into the third period, the Avs fell 6-3 to the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night at Pepsi Center. Rene Bourque scored two goals, and Nathan MacKinnon (one goal, one assist) and Mikko Rantanen (two assists) each added two points. The six goals scored by Edmonton were the most the Avalanche has allowed this season, as were the four the Oilers potted in the third period. It was also the Avs' first loss of the season when leading after two periods of play.

The Canucks will be playing the second half of a back-to-back and their third game in four days on Saturday. Vancouver fell 2-1 to the Dallas Stars in Dallas on Friday night. Jayson Megna opened the game's scoring with his first tally of the season in the first period, but the Stars rallied to score two in the middle frame to take a 2-1 win. Ryan Miller finished with 26 saves.

Video: Romero and Rycroft preview Saturday's game

How They Stack Up

Colorado and Vancouver have posted very similar offensive numbers so far this season. The Avs average 2.21 goals per game (27th in the league) while the Canucks average 2.20 (28th in the league).

Nathan MacKinnon's 15 points and 10 assists are team highs for the Avalanche, while Matt Duchene and Rene Bourque are tied for the club lead in goals with seven each.

Bo Horvat (seven goals, seven assists) leads the way for Vancouver with 14 points, while Daniel Sedin's 13 points (six goals, seven assists) rank second. Both Daniel and Henrik Sedin as well as Sven Baertschi and Horvat have recorded seven assists on the season, a three-way tie for the team lead.

Faceoffs have been a strength for both teams, with each ranking in the top 10 in overall faceoff win percentage. Colorado's 51.8 rate of success on the draw is fifth, while Vancouver's 51.6-percent success rate ranks sixth. In the offensive zone, the Avs have a league-leading 55.9 percent rate of success while the Canucks' 53.9 percent is tied for fifth.

Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar noted after practice on Friday that the team took too many needless penalties in Wednesday's 6-3 loss to Edmonton, something it will try to rectify against the Canucks on Saturday. With more than 127 total minutes spent on the PK so far this season, the Avalanche ranks sixth in the league in time spent on the penalty kill. At just under 91 minutes, the Canucks have spent the least amount of time on the kill than any team in the NHL.

Player to Watch

Colorado: Right Wing Jarome Iginla

Iginla will play his 98th career contest against the Canucks on Saturday night, tied for his most games against a single team in his career--he played his 98th game against Edmonton on Wednesday night. His 83 all-time points against Vancouver are his second-highest total against an opponent in his career.

Vancouver: Center Jayson Megna

With Sven Baertschi out of the lineup on Friday night, Megna was moved from Vancouver's fourth line to the second line, playing alongside Bo Horvat and Alexandre Burrows. He made the most of the opportunity, scoring Vancouver's lone goal in a 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars.

Lineup Notes

Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog will miss his fifth straight game with a lower-body injury. Landeskog skated on his own Friday and joined the team for practice, wearing a red non-contact jersey.

Calvin Pickard, who is 4-1-0 in five starts this season, will start in net for his first career game against Vancouver. Pickard has a 2.07 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage. In his last start, Pickard made 41 saves as the Avalanche beat the Minnesota Wild 3-2 on the road.

Goaltender Spencer Martin will back up Pickard after getting his first NHL call-up from San Antonio on Friday. Semyon Varlamov is listed as out with a minor upper-body injury.

The Details

Saturday's game begins at 8 p.m. MT, and tickets are still available. The game can be seen live on Altitude and heard on Altitude Sports Radio AM 950 and at ColoradoAvalanche.com.

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