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Avalanche Hosts Coyotes in Western Conference Matchup

Colorado and Arizona meet for the final time this season

by Dan Vatch / ColoradoAvalanche.com

In a crucial matchup with implications for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Colorado Avalanche (35-29-13) takes on the Arizona Coyotes (37-33-7) at 7 p.m. MT on Friday at Pepsi Center. The Avalanche currently sits two points ahead of Arizona for the second wild-card position in the Western Conference, as both teams have five games remaining.

Since the 1995-96 season, the Avalanche has a 45-29-10 mark against the Coyotes, including a 22-13-6 record at home. Tonight's outing is the third and final matchup of the season between the clubs and the only one to be played at Pepsi Center.

Colorado has gone 1-1-0 in two meetings with Arizona during the 2018-19 campaign. In those contests, J.T. Compher leads the Avs with four points (two goals, two assists).

After the Friday night clash against the Coyotes, Colorado heads to St. Louis for a matchup against the Blues on Monday at Enterprise Center.

Last Time Out

Colorado took down the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 at Pepsi Center on Wednesday night. Tyson Barrie reached the back of the net to become first all-time among Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques defensemen in career goals with his 73rd marker. Barrie added two helpers, while Nathan MacKinnon also posted a multi-point outing with a goal and an assist. Matt Calvert and Gabriel Bourque each lit the lamp for the Avs, as Tyson Jost, Alexander Kerfoot, Carl Soderberg and Nikita Zadorov each added a helper in the win. Goaltender Philipp Grubauer made 34 saves for Colorado to earn his seventh victory in his last 10 starts (7-2-1).

The Coyotes beat the Chicago Blackhawks 1-0 on Tuesday at Gila River Arena on a third-period tally from Nick Cousins. Oliver Ekman-Larsson notched a helper while goalie Darcy Kuemper stopped 31 shots in his fourth shutout of the season.

Last Time They Met

Arizona prevailed in a 6-4 win on Dec. 22 at Gila River Arena. Alexander Kerfoot (two goals), J.T. Compher (two assists) and Matt Nieto (two assists) each posted multi-point outings for Colorado while Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon rounded out the markers for the Avs. Brad Richardson recorded two goals, and Richard Panik, Derek Stepan, Christian Fischer and Conor Garland each tallied for the Coyotes. Philipp Grubauer stopped 12 shots and Pavel Francouz made 21 saves in relief in his NHL debut between the pipes for the Avs. Netminder Adin Hill made 24 saves in the win for Arizona.

What To Watch

March To The Beat

In seven home games during the month of March, the Avalanche has averaged 3.0 goals per game while posting a 5-2-0 record at Pepsi Center. The club's 10 points on home ice is tied for the fourth most in the league for the current month.

Special Teams, Strong Suits

The Avalanche ranks seventh in the NHL on the power play this season, capitalizing at a 22.1-percent rate and have recorded a goal on the man advantage in each of its last three contests. The Coyotes enter Friday night's battle with a league-leading 85.6-percent success rate on the penalty kill, having allowed only two power-play goals against in their last 11 outings. Arizona is also second in the NHL with 16 short-handed tallies scored this year.

Players To Watch

Colorado: Center Nathan MacKinnon

The Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, native tallied his 28th multi-point effort of the year in the win against Vegas on Wednesday with a goal and an assist. MacKinnon paces the Avs with 94 points (38 goals, 56 assists) this season, just three points shy of tying his career best from the 2017-18 campaign when he registered 39 markers and 58 helpers for 97 points. The 23-year-old has tallied 397 career points (152 goals, 245 assists) in 451 games with the Avalanche.

Arizona: Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson

The three-time Stanley Cup champion defenseman leads the Coyotes and ranks third in the NHL with 247:26 of total time on the penalty kill this season. The Eksjo, Sweden, native has helped Arizona become the league's best short-handed unit, cancelling 85.6 percent of penalties the team has faced during the 2018-19 campaign. Hjalmarsson has faced the Avalanche 37 times in his career and has registered seven helpers in that stretch.

Lineup Notes

Colorado head coach Jared Bednar said after practice that captain Gabriel Landeskog is a possibility to return to action for Friday's game against Arizona. The Stockholm, Sweden, native has tallied a career-high 69 points (33 goals, 36 assists) in 68 contests for the Avs this season. Landeskog has missed nine games since suffering an upper-body injury against the Dallas Stars on March 7.

The Details

Friday's clash between the Avalanche and Coyotes is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. MT. The game can be watched locally on Altitude 2 or streamed on select devices with the AltitudeNOW app (in market) or NHL.tv (out of market). The radio broadcast can be heard on AM 950 in the Denver area or online at ColoradoAvalanche.com.

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