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Avalanche Continues Road Trip At Devils

New Jersey will be playing its season opener in the matinee

by Taylor Hodapp / ColoradoAvalanche.com

The Colorado Avalanche will be looking for its second win of the season as the club takes on the New Jersey Devils on Saturday afternoon at Prudential Center. It is the Avs' second of three consecutive games on the east coast.

Against New Jersey, Colorado has an all-time record of 16-12-4 (since 1995-96) and has been victorious in 10 of the last 12 competitions. As the away team, the Avalanche is 6-7-3 and has left with a 'W' in three of the last four matchups in Newark.

Last Time Out

The Avalanche, 1-0-0 on the season, defeated the New York Rangers on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden. Semyon Varlamov made 37 saves in the victory, only allowing a pair of markers late in the first period from Mika Zibanejad. It was the netminder's first win and regular-season outing since he had season-ending hip surgery on Jan. 26. Duchene found the back of the net just 5:29 into the first stanza and Mikko Rantanen followed it up with a second tally five minutes later. With the game tied up in the second frame, Tyson Barrie snagged the go-ahead goal to put the Avs up 3-2. In the final minute, Gabriel Landeskog hit an empty net to secure the 4-2 victory.

The Devils have yet to play a regular season contest but finished the preseason with a 4-1 road win against the Washington Capitals. New Jersey's four goals all came in the first frame, including one from former Avs prospect Will Butcher. The Capitals couldn't make up any ground they lost, with Tyler Graovac recording their only marker in the second period. 

Last Time They Met 

The Avalanche hosted the Devils last season on March 9 and handed its opponent a ninth straight loss at the time. After a scoreless first period, Nathan MacKinnon found the back of the net in the second period to put the Avs ahead 1-0. In a four-goal final frame, Rene Bourque slipped the puck between the posts to put Colorado back on top at 2-1 after conceding a goal to Taylor Hall. After the Devils tied the contest, Francois Beauchemin scored the game-winning tally at 18:46 of the third stanza to give the Avalanche a 3-2 win.

What to Watch

Avs Continue Road Trip

Saturday's game is the second of three games Colorado plays on the road to open the 2017-18 campaign. It's also the second time the Avalanche will be playing in an opponent's home opener, a challenging start but one the team has embraced.

"It's a little more difficult just because it's other teams' home openers and usually teams are juiced up for that but it's a position where I kind of like going on the road to start the season," defenseman Erik Johnson told ColoradoAvalanche.com prior to the road trip. "You get more time with your teammates and get to know each other a little better. We have a lot of new faces. It's definitely a position that's a little more difficult to start out in, but it'll be fun, good atmospheres, and we're excited.

Special Teams

The Avs finished 1-for-5 on the power play against the Rangers on Thursday night, as Mikko Rantanen's first-period tally came with the man advantage. Both of New York's goals came on the power play as well, and the Rangers finished with two goals on six man advantage opportunities.

Players to Watch

Colorado

Forward Alexander Kerfoot

Rookie forward Alexander Kerfoot hit NHL ice for the first time on Thursday night and recorded his first point with an assist on Barrie's second period goal. Kerfoot skated 12:06 in his debut as head coach Jared Bednar placed him on a line with Matt Duchene and Nail Yakupov. The Harvard graduate finished his four-game preseason with five points (two goals, three assists) and looks to further make his presence known in regular-season play.

New Jersey

Forward Marcus Johansson

After spending all of his seven-year NHL career with the Washington Capitals, Johansson enters his first season with the Devils after being acquired in a trade on July 2. He finished the 2016-17 campaign with 58 points (24 goals, 34 assists). Johansson finished third on the Devils with six points (1g, 5a) in four preseason contests. His five assists ranked first on the team.

Lineup Notes

Nikita Zadorov will make his 2017-18 debut after being a healthy scratch for the season opener in New York.

Goaltender Jonathan Bernier will start between the pipes, making his first regular season appearance with the Avalanche.

Anton Lindholm was recalled from the team's AHL affiliate in San Antonio. The defenseman played 12 games with Colorado last year and will the eighth blueliner on the current roster.

The Details

Game time on Saturday is scheduled at 12 p.m. MT, and it can be watched live on Altitude TV. The radio broadcast can be heard on Altitude Sports Radio AM 950 or online at ColoradoAvalanche.com.

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