The Colorado Avalanche plays the final contest of a four-game homestand on Tuesday night, hosting the Los Angeles Kings at Pepsi Center.
The Avs are 35-37-9 all-time against the Kings (since 1995-96) and 21-17-1 on home ice in the series. Colorado was 2-1-0 against L.A. during the 2015-16 season, picking up one win at home and one in Los Angeles. Tyson Barrie (two goals, three assists) and Matt Duchene (three goals, two assists) each recorded five points against the Kings last season to lead all Avalanche skaters.
The Avs look to finish the homestand strong before hitting the road for three games, including two against Central Division rivals the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild.
Last Time Out
Despite a 44-save performance by Semyon Varlamov, a season high for the Russian goaltender, the Avalanche fell to the Boston Bruins 2-0 on Sunday evening. Colorado allowed a season high 46 shots, getting outshot by its opponent for the sixth time this season. Varlamov also tied an Avs record for saves in a period, stopping 24 shots in the middle frame and tying Calvin Pickard, who recorded 24 saves in the third period on March 3, 2016, against the Florida Panthers.
In a Sunday afternoon matinee, Tanner Pearson got the Kings on the board first, but Los Angeles fell to the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 in a shootout. Tom Gilbert tied the game at 12:58 of the third period to send it to overtime, but the Kings were unable to win in the shootout. Peter Budaj stopped 27 shots faced.
Stacking Up: Offense and Defense
Despite missing Sunday's game with concussion-like symptoms, Duchene remains Colorado's leading scorer with six goals. Rene Bourque, who recorded two tallies in Friday's 3-2 win over Winnipeg, including the overtime winner, ranks second. Erik Johnson and Nathan MacKinnon are tied for the team lead with six assists each.
The second period has been the highest-scoring frame for the Avalanche this season (10 goals), while the Kings have allowed more goals in the middle stanza than any other frame.
Colorado is averaging 28.1 shots per night, a number that head coach Jared Bednar would like to see increase.
"We're not getting enough shots through to the net from our blueline is one issue," he said of the team's offensive challenges on Monday. "I think we could do a better job finding some lanes and getting some playable pucks down to the net. A lot of it is fancy plays, east-west plays when I think we can start driving the net more and putting the puck to the net more. It's what teams are doing against us and having success. And we've done it at times, but not consistently enough. So, it's repetition. The more pucks you get down there and get to the net and in scoring areas, the more traffic you get to those areas, the more opportunities you're going to have."
Los Angeles is averaging 2.38 goals per game and is led by Tanner Pearson's six markers. Jeff Carter's 11 points are a team high. The Kings are in a three-way tie (Chicago, New Jersey) for the league lead in overtime games played with six.
Defensively, the Avs and the Kings have allowed an average of 2.93 and 2.50 goals per game, respectively. The Kings have been without No. 1 netminder Jonathan Quick, who sustained a lower-body injury and has missed 15 games. Former Avalanche goalie Peter Budaj has filled in, recording a 2.06 goals against average and a .914 save percentage
Stacking Up: Special Teams
Both the Avalanche and the Kings rank in the top 10 in the NHL in time spent on the penalty kill. With an 80.3-percent success rate, the Avalanche penalty kill ranks 21st in the league while the Kings, at 78.2 percent, rank 24th.
Los Angeles' power play comes in at No. 28 in the league with a 9.8-percent rate of success, while Colorado, at 18.4 percent, ranks 15th. The Avs have been stronger with the man advantage at home, recording five goals on 23 opportunities (21.7 percent conversion).
Player to Watch
Colorado: Left Wing Blake Comeau
Comeau will make his return to the lineup after missing the last four games with a groin injury. He's tallied a goal and an assist in 10 games, but head coach Jared Bednar has said his presence will bring a physical element to the group.
Los Angeles: Center Jeff Carter
Carter has been a thorn in the side of the Avalanche with 11 points (seven goals, four assists) in his last 10 games against the team.
Semyon Varlamov will make his third straight start in net. Varlamov has a 6-4-1 career record against the Kings.
Patrick Wiercioch, who was a healthy scratch on Friday and Sunday, will return to the lineup. Eric Gelinas will be out. The Avs will continue with 12 healthy forwards for the time being.
"Because we thought Duchene was a possibility. We'll evaluate that in the next couple of days and then make a decision on if we need someone else," said Bednar of the roster situation.
Puck drop is slated for 7 p.m. MT, and tickets are still available. The game can be seen live on Altitude and heard on Altitude Sports Radio AM950 and ColoradoAvalanche.com.