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Avs Begin East Coast Swing in D.C.

Colorado begins three-game road trip in the nation's captial

by Miranda Einhorn / ColoradoAvalanche.com

Following the culmination of a five-game homestand, the Colorado Avalanche (22-22-8) heads east to take on the Washington Capitals (29-18-6) at Capital One Arena on Thursday. The matchup concludes the season series between the two teams.

The Avalanche has a 13-16-3 record against the reigning Stanley Cup champions (since 1995-96), which includes a 5-9-1 mark on the road. Gabriel Landeskog (five goals, seven assists; 12 games) is tied with Nathan MacKinnon (four goals, eight assists; nine contests) for the most career points against the Capitals with 12. Landeskog recorded his first-ever NHL hat trick last season versus Washington, tallying three times on Nov. 17, 2017.

Colorado's three-game road trip will continue on Saturday as the team takes on the New York Islanders at Barclays Center in Brooklyn before heading to TD Garden on Sunday to wrap up its final east coast swing in 2018-19 against the Boston Bruins.

Last Time Out

Despite being tied 3-3 after two periods of play, the Avalanche ultimately fell 6-3 to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Pepsi Center on Tuesday. Defenseman Erik Johnson (one goal, one assist) recorded a two-point performance, while fellow blueliners Nikita Zadorov and Samuel Girard also found the back of the net in the outing. The Avalanche successfully shut down 1-of-2 penalties as goaltender Philipp Grubauer made 31 saves.

Alexander Ovechkin became the highest-scoring Russia-born player in NHL history with 1,180, points as Washington beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 at Capital One Arena on Tuesday. The forward assisted on a goal from T.J. Oshie, while Brett Connolly and Jakub Vrana also lit the lamp for the Capitals. Washington netminder Braden Holtby turned aside 30-of-32 shots in the victory.

Last Time They Met

The Avs and Caps battled into overtime, but Colorado lost 3-2 in the previous contest between the two clubs on Nov. 16 at Pepsi Center. Carl Soderberg notched the first marker of the evening just over a minute into the first frame. While Devante Smith-Pelly and Ovechkin both scored in the middle period, Colin Wilson answered for the Avalanche late in the third stanza to force overtime. Nicklas Backstrom found twine on a power play 22 seconds into the extra period to end the clash. Grubauer finished the night stopping 26-of-29 shots.

What To Watch

Dexterous Defense

All three Avalanche goals on Tuesday were scored by defensemen, tying a season high for defensive goal scoring in an outing. Tyson Barrie leads team rear guards with 39 points (six goals, 33 assists), followed by Johnson's 16 points (four goals, 12 assists) and Girard's 15 (three goals, 12 assists). Barrie is also tied for 10th in point scoring among all NHL blueliners. Colorado defensemen have generated 26 of the team's 132 power-play points this year (includes goals and assists), helping the club to third in the league with 47 total man-advantage tallies and a share of sixth place in the NHL with a 24.2-percent power-play success rate.

Avs Against the East

Colorado is 13-8-2 against Eastern Conference squads so far in the 2018-19 campaign. Five of those games have seen six goals scored by the Avalanche and eight outings against the East have seen at least five. Including Thursday's contest, the team has nine more games against clubs from the opposing conference this season.  

Players To Watch

Colorado: Defenseman Nikita Zadorov

Zadorov has registered points in the past two games (one goal, one assist), marking the first time this season he has reached the scoresheet in back-to-back contests. The rear guard has produced eight points (five goals, three assists) over 41 outings this year and leads the Avs in hits (122). His 3.0 average hits per game also rank tied for 11th in the league among defensemen. Zadorov has a plus-3 rating through six career games against the Capitals.

Washington: Center Nicklas Backstrom

Backstrom is second on the Caps in scoring having recorded 53 points (13 goals, 40 assists) in 52 contests this year. He has notched eight points in the past eight games (two goals, six assists), including back-to-back, multi-point outings on Jan. 22-23. The forward registered one goal and one assist in the Nov. 16 clash against the Avalanche to bring his career total to 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 15 contests against Colorado.

Lineup Notes

The Avalanche added two players to its roster from the American Hockey League on Wednesday, recalling forward A.J. Greer and defenseman Anton Lindholm from the Colorado Eagles.

The Details

Thursday's matchup between the Avalanche and Capitals is slated for 5 p.m. MT. The game can be watched locally on Altitude or on select devices with the AltitudeNOW app (in market) or on 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.

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