In its second home game in three nights, the Colorado Avalanche (9-6-3) returns to action at 7 p.m. MT on Friday as it hosts the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals (8-7-3) at Pepsi Center. The clash will be the first of two contests between the non-conference foes, with the Avs traveling to Washington, D.C., on Feb. 7 to complete the season series.
Since the 1995-96 season, the Avalanche is 13-16-2 against the Caps and owns a winning record at home with an 8-7-1 mark. The clubs split the two-game season series during the 2017-18 campaign, with the home team prevailing in each contest. Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon each registered five points (both with one goal and four assists) to pace Colorado skaters during those matchups. Semyon Varlamov started both games in net, making 50 total saves and recording a 1-1-0 record.
Friday's game will be the last at Pepsi Center for the Avalanche until its Nov. 24 clash against the Central Division rival Dallas Stars. It is also Hockey Fights Cancer night, as the Avs are teaming up with UCHealth to honor survivors and raise awareness for the disease.
Last Time Out
The Avalanche fought back from a 3-1 deficit against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday at Pepsi Center, scoring five straight times in the second and third period to win 6-3 win. Colorado took a 1-0 lead at the 10:16 mark of the first period on Gabriel Landeskog's 12th goal of the season, assisted by Mikko Rantanen. The Bruins answered with three straight markers, starting with a power-play tally from David Pasternak and followed up by two goals from Jake DeBrusk in a matter of 2:37. Colorado countered with a man-advantage goal from Rantanen with 11:13 left in the middle frame, and Matt Calvert tied the outing early in the third period with his second marker of the year. Nathan MacKinnon scored the go-ahead goal just seven minutes later, and Tyson Jost and Alexander Kerfoot scored on back-to-back power plays to close out the game for the Avs.
Rantanen led the team with three points (one goal, two assists), while Kerfoot and MacKinnon each recorded one goal and one helper each. Samuel Girard registered two assists, and Tyson Barrie, Sheldon Dries, Ian Cole and Carl Soderberg added one helper apiece. Semyon Varlamov made 20 saves in net and pushed his record to 6-5-2 on the season.
On Wednesday, the Capitals dropped a 3-1 decision at the Winnipeg Jets. Jakub Vrana scored the first goal of the game for the Caps, but the Jets countered with three unanswered goals to claim the victory. Pheonix Copley made 21 saves in the second half of a back-to-back for Washington. The Capitals won 5-2 at the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.
Last Time They Met
The two clubs last faced off on Dec. 12, 2017 with the Capitals earning a 5-2 win at Capital One Arena. Washington grabbed a 1-0 lead with a goal from Jakub Vrana before Colin Wilson tied the game at 1-1 in the second period. The Capitals extended their lead with three consecutive goals coming from John Carlson, Brett Connelly and Matt Niskanen before Tyson Jost pulled the Avalanche closer, making it a 4-2 contest with just over a minute left in regulation. Devante Smith-Pelly notched an empty-netter to secure the victory for Washington. Colorado netminder Semyon Varlamov and Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby each made 22 saves.
What to Watch
The Avs went a perfect 3-for-3 on power plays against the Bruins on Wednesday. It was the fourth time since the franchise moved to Colorado that the team had capitalized on 100 percent of their man advantages with a minimum of three opportunities. Charting a 29-percent success rate through the season, the Avs own the third-most successful power play in the league.
The Colorado Avalanche is the only team in the NHL this season that has three players from different countries that hold at least a share of first place among their countrymen in points (minimum 10 active players in a country). Mikko Rantanen leads Finnish-born players with 29 points, while Gabriel Landeskog is tied for first among Swedish skaters (20, Washington's Nicklas Backstrom) and Nathan MacKinnon shares the top spot with Canadian-born players in the NHL (26, Edmonton's Connor McDavid).
Players to Watch
Colorado: Center Tyson Jost
Since returning from injury last Friday, the 20-year-old has tallied goals in two of the three outings, giving him four points (three goals, one assist) on the year. Last season, the St. Albert, Alberta, native notched 22 points (12 goals, 10 assists) in 65 games played. His two markers on the power play are tied for the third most among Avalanche skaters during the 2018-19 campaign.
Washington: Left Wing Alexander Ovechkin
The seven-time Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy winner paces the Capitals with 12 goals this season, tied for third in the NHL. He currently ranks first among active NHL skaters in career goals (619) and second in points (1,142). The former first-overall selection in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft has registered four multi-goal games this year, including a four-point outburst (two goals, two assists) on Oct. 22 at the Vancouver Canucks. Ovechkin has recorded 11 points (six goals, five assists) in 16 career games against Colorado.
Philipp Grubauer will start in net for the Avs.The goaltender will be playing in his sixth game of the season and his first against his former team. Grubauer began his career with the Capitals and helped the club win the 2018 Stanley Cup. He was acquired by Colorado in a trade during the offseason.
Friday's clash between the Avalanche and Capitals is set for 7 p.m. MT. The game can be watched live locally on Altitude or streamed on select devices with the Altitude Now app (in market) or NHL.tv (out of market). The radio broadcast can be heard on Altitude Sports Radio FM 92.5 in the Denver area or online at ColoradoAvalanche.com.
It is also Colorado's annual Hockey Fights Cancer game, as the organization is joining with UCHealth to offering unique opportunities throughout the contest. Among the activities include a special bell that can be rung by survivors in attendance and a "I Fight For" placard photo station on the concourse. The Avs will also wear special lavender jerseys during warmup that will then be auctioned off online.