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Avalanche Faces Golden Knights in 2021 NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe

Teams meet for third straight game, Colorado playing third outdoor contest

by Andy Vernier / ColoradoAvalanche.com

The Colorado Avalanche heads outside to the Edgewood Tahoe Resort in Stateline, Nevada, to take on the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday in the NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe game. The matchup is the third contest of a four-game set between the clubs.

After falling 1-0 in the first meeting of the series on Sunday, the Avs responded with a 3-2 victory over the Golden Knights on Tuesday. Nazem Kadri's late-game heroics earned Colorado its eighth (8-4-1) win of the campaign as he tallied the winning goal with 41 seconds left in the third period. Nathan MacKinnon notched the first marker of the contest off a slick feed from Mikko Rantanen, while Brandon Saad (one goal, one assist) and Joonas Donskoi (two assists) both registered multi-point efforts. Netminder Philipp Grubauer stopped 27-of-29 shots, collecting his fifth victory in his last six starts.

Vegas didn't go down easy as the squad fought back from two different one-goal deficits throughout the game. Max Pacioretty scored for the second straight matchup to tie the contest at 1-1 and Jonathan Marchessault knotted up the meeting once again early in final frame at 2-2. William Karlsson recorded two assists, while goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury received his second loss of the year, making 22 saves. 

Saturday's contest is Colorado's third time hosting an outdoor game, as the Avs played in the 2016 NHL Stadium Series at Coors Field in Denver and the 2020 NHL Stadium Series at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. The Golden Knights will make their first appearance in an outdoor contest after entering the league in the 2017-18 season.

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Avalanche vs. Golden Knights

Edgewood Tahoe Resort | Stateline, Nev.

Game Time: 1 p.m. MT
TV: NBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
 Radio: Altitude Sports Radio, FM 92.5/AM 950 (KKSE)
 Live Streams:  NBCSports.com,   NBC Sports app,  Official app (blackouts apply to all)
 Online Audio:  Listen Live Here
 Follow: @Avalanche, Official app, Gamecenter

COLORADO-VEGAS CONNECTIONS

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare played two seasons with Vegas after the team selected him in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft… Golden Knights defenseman Nick Holden played three seasons with Colorado from 2013-2016. 

HISTORY

The Avs own a 6-4-0 all-time franchise mark against the Golden Knights, including a 3-0-0 record as the home team. Vegas is the only squad Colorado has an undefeated record against at Ball Arena.

The Avalanche hosts an outdoor game for the second consecutive campaign, becoming the fifth team to play in an outdoor contest in successive seasons (also Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs). Last year, Colorado welcomed the Kings at 6,621 feet above sea level--the highest elevation for an NHL regular-season outdoor game--but fell 3-1 at Falcon Stadium. The Avs also hosted the warmest outdoor NHL matchup on record, with a puck-drop temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit when the club fell 5-3 versus the Red Wings at Coors Field in 2016.

Of the current Avalanche roster, 18 players have participated in an NHL outdoor game. Gabriel Landeskog (two assists), Nathan MacKinnon (one goal, one assist) and Erik Johnson are the only members to have played in both of Colorado's previous outdoor matchups. Brandon Saad and Nazem Kadri are the only Avs to have outdoor experience that does not include a contest in an Avalanche sweater. Saad (one goal, one assist) has competed in three outdoor games with the Chicago Blackhawks, while Kadri (one goal) has made three appearances with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Vegas will become the 26th different franchise to participate in an NHL outdoor game, making its debut on Saturday. 

ROSTER REPORT

Gabriel Landeskog, Tyson Jost and Kiefer Sherwood all returned to practice on Thursday after being on the COVID-19 protocol list, with Sherwood being reassigned to the AHL Colorado Eagles later in the day. Cale Makar (upper body) is a game-time decision, while Matt Calvert (upper body) pas participated in each of the last two skates after missing seven contests. Landeskog, Jost, Makar, Calvert and Samuel Girard (COVID protocol) are all eligible to return to the lineup on Saturday. Netminder Philipp Grubauer is expected to make his second start in an NHL outdoor matchup.

INJURY UPDATE

Pavel Francouz (lower body) and Erik Johnson (upper body) are both out indefinitely with injuries. Defenseman Dennis Gilbert was hurt in Colorado's previous outing on Tuesday.

SCOUTING THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS

The Golden Knights own a 10-3-1 mark through 14 contests and sit in second place in the West Division. Vegas has only participated in three games on the road this season, possessing a 2-1-0 record. The club's three away contests are the least amount of road matchups in the league.

Eleven players on the Golden Knights' roster have appeared in an NHL outdoor game. Max Pacioretty has played in the most of anyone on the squad, participating in three outdoor contests with the Montreal Canadiens and has tallied one goal and one assist. Only two other Vegas skaters have registered a point in an outdoor meeting: Mark Stone recorded an assist in the NHL NHL100 Classic with the Ottawa Senators and Chandler Stephenson collected a helper in the 2018 NHL Stadium Series with the Washington Capitals. Defenseman Nick Holden skated in the 2016 NHL Stadium Series with the Avalanche.

Vegas' 85.7 penalty-kill percentage is tied for the fourth-best in the league.  

(AVS) PLAYER TO WATCH: BRANDON SAAD

Brandon Saad has tallied six goals and four assists through 13 games this season, ranking second in goals for the Avalanche and tied for fourth in points with 10. Saad leads the club in even-strength markers (six) and notched his fourth multi-point game of the year on Tuesday versus Vegas, recording a goal and an assist.

In three NHL outdoor contests with the Blackhawks, the forward has a plus-5 rating, the highest plus-minus rating for a forward in outdoor game history. His plus-5 rating is tied with Florida Panthers defenseman Anton Stralman for the second-highest among all skaters behind Detroit Red Wings blueliner Marc Staal (plus-6). Saad's three outdoor appearances is tied for the team lead with Nazem Kadri.

(OPPOSING) PLAYER TO WATCH: MARC-ANDRE FLEURY

Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is set to start in his third NHL outdoor game; his previous appearances outside came with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Fleury is one of 13 goalies to skate between the pipes in multiple outdoor contests but is only one of two goaltenders from that group who has yet to earn a victory, along with Montreal Canadiens' Carey Price. The keeper has compiled a 0-2-0 record, registering a 4.04 goals-against average and .889 save percentage in such games.

In nine starts this season, Fleury boasts a 7-2-0 mark, allowing only 1.56 goals per game with a .937 save percentage. He is the league leader in goals-against average for goaltenders who have played in five or more games and ranks third in save percentage among those netminders. In 21 career games against the Avalanche with the Golden Knights and Penguins, Fleury holds a 12-6-2 record, including a 2-3-0 mark in his last five.

NUMBERS GAME

3

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare is one of three French-born players to participate in an NHL outdoor game. His first appearance came in the 2017 NHL Stadium Series with the Philadelphia Flyers, and he played in the 2020 NHL Stadium Series with the Avalanche.

4

The Avalanche has won four straight contests as the home team. The club holds a 4-1-0 record at home, tallying 4.20 goals per game while allowing 1.60 goals per matchup.

13

Nevada will become the 13th different state (plus the District of Columbia) to host an NHL regular-season outdoor game. In 2018, Nevada became the 16th different state to host a Stanley Cup Final game since the NHL was founded in 1917-18.

31

The outdoor meeting between Colorado and Vegas is the 31st NHL regular-season outdoor game to be played. It is the first of such contests to be played on a golf course, with the previous 30 matchups being hosted by football venues (19), baseball parks (10) and a soccer stadium. As well, it is the first outdoor game without fans, as the average attendance for these events is 54,069.

88.6

The Avs own the second best penalty-kill unit in the league, stopping 88.6 percent of power-play opportunities against. At home, the club has killed 94.4 percent of penalties, which also ranks second in the NHL.

6,224

The contest between Colorado and Vegas will be played at 6,224 feet above sea level, the second-highest elevation for an NHL outdoor game behind the 2020 NHL Stadium Series at Falcon Stadium between the Avalanche and Kings. After Saturday's meeting, the Avs will have played in each of the top three-highest outdoor games in NHL history (5,200 feet at 2016 Stadium Series in Denver).    

NOTEBOOK

The Avalanche looks earn its first victory in an outdoor game, going 0-2-0 in its first two matchups… In 30 NHL contests outside, the home team holds a 13-14-2 record… Cale Makar is one assist away from his 50th career helper. He can tie Brian Leetch (69 games) for the fourth-fewest games to reach the 50-assist mark among defensemen if he records an assist in Sunday's meeting… The teams that have scored first in NHL outdoor contests own a 16-9-5 record. Colorado has tallied the first marker in 10 of its 13 games this season, recording a 7-2-1 mark when notching the first goal… Andre Burakovsky is two points away from his 200th career mark. The forward has eight points (three goals, five assists) in 10 matchups this year… Bowen Byram's 18:48 average time on ice ranks fourth among rookies in the NHL. In Tuesday's contest, Byram logged a career-high 25:03, second on the team behind Devon Toews, who set a new personal best at 26:48… Nazem Kadri is tied for the Avalanche lead this year with two game-winning goals (Gabriel Landeskog and Valeri Nichushkin) after scoring on Tuesday. Kadri became the first Avalanche/Nordiques player to tally multiple go-ahead goals in the final minute of regulation (regular season and playoffs) after also doing so in the 2020 postseason.

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