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Avs Close Out November Against Nashville

by Danielle Bernstein / ColoradoAvalanche.com

The Colorado Avalanche will close out the month of November just the way it opened it--by hosting the Nashville Predators at Pepsi Center.

Looking for a different outcome this time, the Avs will take on the Preds in the second of five meetings this season and the second of three that will be played in the Mile High City. 

Colorado is 31-28-11 all-time against the Predators and 18-14-4 at home. The Avs have won three of the last five meetings at Pepsi Center and six of the last 10.

Jarome Iginla's 39 goals and 64 career points all-time against Nashville leads all active players versus the club.

Last Time Out

The Avalanche earned a point, but fell to the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 in a shootout on Saturday night at home. Mikhail Grigorenko and Jarome Iginla each potted goals for the Avs, and Calvin Pickard, making his sixth start of the season, finished with 29 saves. It was the first game this season for Colorado that required a shootout to determine a victor. 

Nashville lost to the Winnipeg Jets 3-0 on Sunday, snapping a three-game win streak. Trailing 1-0 with less than a minute remaining, the Predators pulled goaltender Juuse Saros, and the Jets scored two empty-net goals. The Preds put up a season-high 42 shots on goal, but couldn't solve Connor Hellebuyck.

 

Last Time They Met

Colorado and Nashville last met on Nov. 1 with the visitors taking a 5-1 win. Jarome Iginla scored the lone goal for the Avalanche, which knotted the game at one early in the opening period, but Nashville scored four unanswered to take a 1-0 lead in the 2016-17 season series.

 

What to Watch For

Nashville's Power Play

In the first meeting between these two teams, the Avs allowed one power-play goal on five of Nashville's man-advantage opportunities. On Tuesday, Colorado again faces the league's third-best power-play unit, which has converted on 23.8 percent of its man-advantage opportunities and scored six power-play goals in its last five games. P.K. Subban, Ryan Johansen and Mike Fisher are tied for the team lead in power-play goals with three each. 

Colorado's Power Play

Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar indicated after Monday's practice that he may go back to a top power-play unit that includes Mikko Rantanen, Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon, Tyson Barrie and Jarome Iginla.

"In an ideal situation, I think we have some interchangeable pieces," he said. "If you look at Mikko Rantanen, he's been really good on the half wall for us. To have Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon out there with him, and Tyson and Jarome is a shooter on the off side, makes the most sense."

Bednar noted that he strayed from that group largely due to injuries and some other moving pieces in the lineup and that Rantanen, Carl Soderberg and Rene Bourque had been playing well together in spurts. With Colorado's power play ranked 20th in the league with a 15.6 percent success rate, the Avs may look to get that unit back on the ice together.

"Right now we're just kind of hovering around average, and I think that's an area where if we're having trouble scoring goals, if that can be a real dangerous unit--which we'd like to get them to that point--then that helps the team win," said Bednar.

 

Faceoffs

The Avalanche ranks fourth in in the league in faceoff wins with a 52.2 percent rate of success. Colorado has been even stronger in the offensive zone, where it ranks first at 56.4 percent. The Predators rank 19th (49.5 percent) overall and seventh in the defensive zone at 51.2 percent.

One player who has been particularly effective for the Avalanche is MacKinnon, whose 194 faceoff wins are tops on the team. He won 14-of-22 draws against the Canucks on Saturday, a 64 percent success rate. 

 

Player to Watch

Colorado: Defenseman Tyson Barrie

Barrie's 22:45 of average ice time per game currently leads the Avs. With nine points on the season (two goals, seven assists), he ranks second among Avalanche defensemen in scoring, and coach Bednar thinks Barrie could be on the verge of contributing even more on the offensive side of the ice.

"I think he was a little off for a little while. He wasn't getting enough pucks through to the net. He looked frustrated and a little snake bitten at times," Bednar said of Barrie's offensive play at the beginning of the season. "You saw he had a couple chances at empty nets and he missed it. I think he's starting to generate more offensively. We saw that last week. He had a couple good games where he was up in the play and generating more from the offensive zone blue line, which is key for him."

Nashville: Goaltender Pekka Rinne

Rinne has been hot in the month of November, posting an 8-1-2 record in 11 starts with a 1.35 goals-against average, a .952 save percentage and one shutout. Both overtime losses came in shootouts. Rinne made 28 saves in the Nov. 1 game against Colorado.

 

Lineup Notes

Gabriel Landeskog will miss his sixth straight game with a lower-body injury. While Semyon Varlamov is healthy after missing a practice and Colorado's most recent game against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, Calvin Pickard will make his second consecutive start in net.

 

The Details

The Avs and the Preds square off at 7 p.m. MT Tuesday night, and tickets are still available. Fans can tune into the action live on Altitude TV or listen on Altitude Sports Radio AM950 and at ColoradoAvalanche.com.

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