The Colorado Avalanche hit the road to face the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday for the inaugural matchup between the two clubs. This will be the first of three meetings in the 2017-18 season.
The two teams met twice in the preseason, splitting the games 1-1, each team winning on the road. The Golden Knights came to the Mile High City on Sept. 19 for the teams' first exhibition matchup between the clubs and emerged with a 4-1 victory. The Avs then traveled to Las Vegas on Sept. 28 and outscored the Golden Knights 4-2.
Vegas heads into Friday night's contest on a four-game winning streak, sitting in second place in the Pacific Division. This will be the seventh consecutive home game for the Golden Knights, who are 5-1 at T-Mobile Arena this season. Colorado is also coming off a win over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday, which ended a three-game losing streak. The Avs are 2-3 on the road this season and are coming off of a two-game homestand.
Last Time Out
Colorado improved to 5-4-0 after its 5-3 win against the Stars on Tuesday. Matt Nieto put the Avs on the board midway through the opening period to tie the match, heading into the first intermission 1-1. The Avalanche took the lead in the second frame after finding the back of the net three times. Nieto tallied his second early in the stanza, which was followed up with markers from Gabriel Landeskog and Mark Barberio to put the Avs ahead 4-2. In the final 20 minutes, Dallas put the puck past netminder Semyon Varlamov to cut the deficit to one at the 10:12 mark. Despite the late push by the Stars, Nieto sealed the win with an empty-net goal to earn his first NHL hat trick.
Vegas Golden Knights
The Golden Knights (7-1-0) took on the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday and prevailed with their fourth consecutive win and seventh victory of the season. After Chicago took the lead with a short-handed goal in the first period, William Karlsson, Tomas Nosek, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Jonathan Marchessault scored four straight goals for the Golden Knights for a score of 4-2 at the final horn. With 29 saves between the pipes, goalkeeper Oscar Dansk helped Vegas get the win in his first NHL start after filling ino for injuried netminders Marc-Andre Fleury and Malcolm Subban.
What to Watch
Matt Nieto-Carl Soderberg-Blake Comeau line
The third line took the game by storm on Tuesday against the Dallas Stars, putting up eight points (three goals, five assists). Along with a hat trick from Nieto, Blake Comeau tallied three helpers in the contest, a season high for the wing. Soderberg centered the line and came up with two assists of his own, also a season high.
"Our best line all night, start to finish," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said after Tuesday's contest. "I think there was a little added extra hunger. They skated hard, they played through people, kept their puck play simple and went to the hard areas to score some goals."
During practice Thursday, the line remained unchanged.
All 60 Minutes
Though Colorado came away with a win against Dallas earlier this week, the club realizes its third period play is an area that needs improvement.
"This team needs to learn how to play the entire game," Varlamov said after the win against the Stars. "Every game I feel like we play two periods and then we're just giving up one period. We're all happy after the game, but we have to learn how to play a solid 60 minutes because we came out in the third period and just stopped playing."
Bednar said that the success on Tuesday was set up from the hard fought first 40 minutes. However for the Avs head coach, that fight has to continue into the last frame going forward. He looks back on some of the success that came early in the campaign for the squad and wants to continue to implement some of that late game drive.
"We wanted to stay the aggressor in the third," Bednar said after Tuesday's match. "We have to keep going after them and in the Boston games that's what we did. In the one game, we outshot them and out-chanced Boston in the third and we wanted to try to repeat that here tonight. We didn't do that, so there's room for improvement."
Player to Watch
Colorado: D Tyson Barrie
Tyson Barrie has two goals and six assists so far this campaign, landing him tied for the team scoring lead with Matt Duchene. Barrie has recorded a point in each of the last six contests, a career-long streak for the defenseman. Barrie's next goal or assist will be his 200th point, making him just the sixth blueliner to hit the double-century mark with the franchise.
Vegas: F William Karlsson
William Karlsson has earned five points so far this season with two goals and three assists, placing him third in points for the Golden Knights. The forward has found the back of the net in the last two games including a power-play marker against Chicago and the game-winning overtime goal against the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 21.
Varlamov will be between the pipes on Friday for his seventh start of the season. The Avs four lines remained the same during the practice on Thursday but Bednar is still finalizing his lineup on the blueline.
Puck drop is set for 4 p.m. at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The game will be televised on Altitude TV and the radio broadcast can be heard on Altitude Sports Radio AM 950 or online at ColoradoAvalanche.com.