After two straight home games, the Colorado Avalanche will make a quick trip to Nashville on Thursday to play the fifth and final game of the 2016-17 season series against the Predators. The Avs are 0-4-0 this season against their Central Division foes, who have earned at least one point in nine of their last 11 home games (6-2-3).
Colorado has earned at least a point in two of its last three games, while Nashville sits in fourth place in the division and holds the Western Conference's top wild card spot entering Thursday's contest. Just a point ahead of the Calgary Flames and with the Los Angeles Kings and Winnipeg Jets also on their heels, the Predators look to gain ground in the playoff race.
Last Time Out
The Avalanche struck first but fell to the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 on Tuesday night at Pepsi Center. Mikko Rantanen scored for the third straight game, potting his 14th goal of the season, and Calvin Pickard stopped 30 of the 32 shots he faced.
Nashville also last played on Tuesday night, dropping a 6-5 overtime decision to the Flames at Bridgestone Arena. Filip Forsberg recorded his third career hat trick to spark Nashville's rally from a 4-1 deficit, but the Flames scored 43 seconds into the extra frame to take the win.
Last Time They Met
The Predators took a 3-2 win in the last meeting between the two teams on Jan. 14. Colorado held a 2-0 lead in the second period before Cody McLeod brought the Predators within one by the end of the period. Nashville scored twice in the final 20 minutes to complete the comeback.
Video: Keefe and Rycroft preview Thursday's game
The Avalanche is one of only five teams that hasn't allowed a short-handed goal on the road this season, and the Avs are tied with Columbus with the fewest overall short-handed goals allowed this season (one).
Nashville shares the league lead with eight short-handed tallies on the season, an NHL-best five of which have come on home ice. Viktor Arvidsson is tied for first among all league skaters with three shorthanded tallies and his five shorthanded points are good for a share of second place.
Colorado and Nashville are two of the more penalized teams in the league, averaging 10.6 and 10.4 penalty minutes per game, respectively. In their four games of the 2016-17 series, the Preds and Avs have had a combined 36 penalties totaling 101 minutes, or more than 25 minutes per game.
The Avalanche enters Thursday night's game ranked second in the league in overall faceoff percentage, led by Matt Duchene, whose 63.1 faceoff win percentage is tops in the NHL. At 50.4 percent, Nashville's overall faceoff win percentage clocks in slightly below Colorado's 53.6 rate of success, but the Predators have won the faceoff battle in 13 of their last 15 games.
Player to Watch
Colorado: Right wing Jarome Iginla
Iginla has averaged nearly a point per game in his career against Nashville, totaling 65 points (39 goals, 26 assists) in 66 career contests. He's played 14 games against the Predators since joining the Avalanche, registering six goals and an assist.
Nashville: Defenseman Roman Josi
Josi has eight points (four goals, four assists) and two multi-point efforts in his last seven games. His five power-play goals rank second on the team and are tied for fifth amongst all NHL defensemen. In 24 career games against the Avalanche, he's registered 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists), which is the highest point total of any Nashville player against the Avs since the 2011-12 season.
Thursday's tilt between the Avs and the Preds begins at 6 p.m. MT and can be seen live on Altitude 2. The radio broadcast can be heard on Altitude Sports Radio AM950 or online at ColoradoAvalanche.com.