The Colorado Avalanche hosts the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday, two nights after the Avs defeated the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Bruins. With their 4-2 win on Thursday, Colorado improved to 3-0-0 on the year and are one of two remaining undefeated teams in the West (Edmonton).
Philipp Grubauer is coming off another strong outing as he stopped 39 shots, including the last 30 fired by the Bruins to anchor the Avs' comeback from a 2-0 deficit. Gabriel Landeskog facilitated the first goal, a put-back score by Nathan MacKinnon to spark Colorado's offense at the end of the first period. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare then tapped in the equalizer in the second before Andre Burakovsky tallied the game-winner with an outside shot with just over seven minutes left to play in the game. Landeskog added an empty-net goal to secure the Avs third win in the young season.
Colorado closes its season-opening, four-game homestand against the Coyotes, who are fresh off their first win of the year. Arizona beat the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1 on Thursday behind two goals by Conor Garland and 37-of-38 saves by goaltender Darcy Kuemper.
The game will be the Avalanche's annual Colorado Girls Hockey night, recognizing females in the hockey community.
Avalanche vs. ARIZONA COYOTES
Pepsi Center | Denver, Colo.
The Avalanche acquired defenseman Kevin Connauton and a 2020 third-round pick in a trade in offseason that send Carl Soderberg to the Coyotes… Soderberg, who turns 34 years old on Saturday, had played his last four seasons in Colorado (2015-2019)… Arizona's Brad Richardson was drafted No. 163 overall in the fifth round by Colorado in 2003 and played his first three NHL seasons with the Avalanche (2005-2008)… Colorado's Matt Nieto and Arizona's Jason Demers were teammates on the San Jose Sharks from 2013-2015.
This will be the first of three meetings between the Avs and Coyotes this year and the first of two at the Pepsi Center. The teams meet again on Nov. 2 in Glendale and March 31 in Denver.
Colorado is 6-4-0 in its last 10 games against Arizona and holds a 63-49-18 overall record in the all-time series, which includes games between the Quebec Nordiques and Winnipeg Jets (which moved to Arizona in 1996). Since 1996-97, the first year with both teams in their current cities, the Avalanche has a 43-28-10 record against the Coyotes.
The Avalanche went 2-1-0 against the Coyotes last season, with MacKinnon and Landeskog each recording at least one point in all three contests.
In their last meeting on March 29, MacKinnon tallied the lone goal in the shootout to lift the Avs to a 3-2 win and give the team a key advantage over the Coyotes in the playoff race. Colorado also won the first meeting last year, 5-1, on Nov. 5, a game that featured two short-handed goals by J.T. Compher. Arizona won 6-4 at home on Dec. 22 in an outing that featured Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz making his NHL debut.
J.T. Compher returned to practice after missing Thursday's game with a lower-body injury, but head coach Jared Bednar said a determination on if Compher will play against the Coyotes will be made after morning skate… Bednar also said that Colin Wilson is likely to stay in the lineup and goaltender Pavel Francouz could make his first career NHL start, but he had yet to finalize his game roster... Joonas Donskoi and Gabriel Landeskog didn't practice on Friday, but both forwards are expected to play.
Defenseman Ian Cole was medically cleared to play after undergoing offseason surgery on both of his hips. He was a full participant in each of the club's four practices this past week… J.T. Compher (lower body) is questionable.
SCOUTING THE COYOTES
Arizona finished fourth in the Pacific Division last season with 86 points and a 39-35-8 record.
The Coyotes are 1-2-0 in 2019-20 after getting in the win column for the first time on Thursday. Arizona is among the league leaders in faceoffs at 55.3 percent and has yet to allow a power-play goal against this season, killing off all seven man-disadvantage opportunities.
Forward Phil Kessel is expected to play in his 1,000th career NHL game and fourth with the Coyotes after arriving via a trade from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the offseason.
(OPPOSING) PLAYER TO WATCH: Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Ekman-Larsson is still without a point through three games in 2019-20, but he has had some past success against the Avalanche. He scored two goals in the third period in their last meeting in March to send the game to a shootout and help Arizona earn a point in the standings.
The Coyotes captain is 13th all-time in franchise history in points (334) and has six goals and eight assists in 27 career games against Colorado. Ekman-Larsson has four points (two goals, two assists) in his last nine games against the Avs and is averaging the most ice time among any Coyotes player (24:11) in those meetings.
The Avalanche is 3-0-0 for just the second time since moving to Denver and the first since 2013-14 when it opened the year 6-0-0. Colorado went on to win the Central Division that year with a 52-22-8 record.
With his 179th career goal on Thursday, Gabriel Landeskog surpassed Matt Duchene and moved into sole possession of seventh place on the franchise's all-time goal list.
Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen each have eight points (three goals and five assists each) against the Coyotes since 2016-17.
Saturday's game is the club's fourth at Pepsi Center this year, capping the ongest homestand to open a season in franchise history… The Avs will then play six straight on the road before returning to Colorado on Oct. 26 versus the Anaheim Ducks… Colorado has won nine straight regular-season games at Pepsi Center dating back to last year… The Avs have scored a goal in every period this season, becoming the first Avalanche team (since 1995) to score in each of its first nine periods to open a campaign… Colorado's power-play unit has scored in all three games this season, going 4-for-14 (28.6 percent).