The Colorado Avalanche closes out a short, two-game homestand on Friday night as it hosts the Anaheim Ducks at Pepsi Center.
Colorado is 37-30-7-9 (since 1995-96) against Anaheim and has had the upper hand when playing at home, where it has a record of 20-16-4-1 in the series. The Avs have lost four straight to the Ducks, including one outing in the Mile High City.
The Avalanche has started this season with a record of 3-1-0 and sits in third place in the Central Division. Friday's matchup is the first half of a back-to-back for Colorado, which plays at Dallas on Saturday.
Last Time Out
The Avs sealed a two-game series sweep against the Boston Bruins with a 6-3 win on Wednesday night.
Tied at one at the end of the first period, the Avs scored three goals in the second frame to take a 4-1 lead. Nail Yakupov found the back of the net one minute into the stanza for the go-ahead goal with an assist from Nathan MacKinnon. MacKinnon soon got a second helper off a power-play tally when Sven Andrighetto fired the puck past goaltender Tuukka Rask for his third marker of the season, and Matt Duchene nailed the top corner with a wrist shot off a feed from Yakupov.
Boston came fighting back in the third and scored two markers in less than two minutes, cutting its deficit to one. Colorado answered with a pair of empty-net goals from Andrighetto and Tyson Jost to end any comeback hopes of the Bruins.
The Avalanche only allowed 23 shots on netminder Semyon Varlamov, the fewest the team has given up this season. Four shots allowed in the first period, also a season low, helped keep the B's to a single-digit shot count until the final 20 minutes.
The Ducks outlasted the New York Islanders on Wednesday night to improve to 2-1-1 on the season. Andrew Cogliano scored the first goal of the match 37 second after the opening faceoff. The Islanders matched their tally later in the frame to go into the first intermission with a tied score of 1-1. Rickard Rakell put Anaheim in the lead again at 8:39 of the second period on a deflection, and Patrick Eaves furthered the lead in the third with his first goal of the year.
John Gibson made 39 saves, which included 20 in the first period alone and 13 on New York power plays to help the Ducks to their 3-2 victory.
Last Time They Met
The last time these two teams met was Jan. 31 at Honda Center in Anaheim. The Ducks topped the Avs 5-1, backed by a three-tally final frame. Jakob Silfverberg scored the only goal in the opening stanza to give Anaheim a 1-0 lead, and Rickard Rakell added a tally early in the second. Mikko Rantanen put the Avs on the scoreboard shortly after to cut Colorado's deficit to one heading into the second intermission. Anaheim tacked on three markers in the final 20 minutes of the match to seal the win.
What to Watch
Alexander Kerfoot, Matt Duchene and Nail Yakupov have been on a line together since training camp and are off to a strong start to the season with a combined six goals and six assists in the first four games.
Duchene and Yakupov each notched a goal and an assist in Wednesday's home opener and are now tied for the team lead with five points.
Kerfoot also scored his first NHL goal in the match against Boston and has found a sense of comfort and rhythm with his linemates.
"It's great. I like it, and I think as a line we are enjoying playing with each other," Kerfoot said. "You know, we are always talking. Dutchy (Duchene) is a good player. He's been here in the league for a while. He's a really good skilled player. He has the speed so we just have to use each other and trust each other and create some chances so I think it's working well right now."
First on the Board
Colorado has been the first to put the puck in the back of the net in each of its three wins this season. In its lone loss to the New Jersey Devils last Saturday, the Avalanche surrendered the first goal of the game.
Prior to Wednesday's outing, Anaheim had only led for three minutes and 30 seconds of the 180:44 of the season. Against the Islanders, they took an early lead and never trailed in a 3-2 victory.
Players to Watch
Colorado: Nail Yakupov
The top overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft has transitioned quickly in his new home in Denver while playing on a line with Duchene and Kerfoot. Averaging more than a point a game with three goals and two assists in four contests, the Russian forward has started looking like a reliable offensive weapon for Colorado.
Anaheim: Andrew Cogliano
Cogliano already has two multi-point games this season after recording three in all 82 outings he played last campaign. He tallied one goal and one assist in Anaheim's win over the Islanders and is currently leading the team with five points (two goals and three assists) in four contests.
Goaltender Jonathan Bernier will start between the posts against the Ducks, facing his former team in his second outing of the season.
Friday's matchup between the Avalanche and Ducks is set for 7 p.m. MT and can be watched live on Altitude TV. The radio broadcast can be heard on Altitude Sports Radio AM 950 or online at ColoradoAvalanche.com.