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Snow vs. Rain: Avalanche Heads South to Face Hurricanes

Colorado continues road trip in Raleigh, North Carolina

by Miranda Einhorn / ColoradoAvalanche.com

The Colorado Avalanche (4-1-2) continues its road trip on Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes (4-2-1) at PNC Arena. It is the third of four games the Avalanche will play away from Denver before returning home next week.

Colorado holds a 19-7-6 record against the Carolina franchise since 1995-96, which includes a 7-6-3 mark while playing on the road. The Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques also owns a 74-46-24 all-time record against the Carolina/Hartford Whalers organization.

Following this game, the Avs will head to Philadelphia to face the Flyers on Monday to wrap up their Eastern Conference road swing.

Last Time Out

The Avalanche topped the New Jersey Devils 5-3 at Prudential Center on Thursday. Making his season debut, Sven Andrighetto scored his first goal of the year after being sidelined with a leg injury for the first six games. His marker was followed up by three tallies from Gabriel Landeskog for the captain's third-career hat trick. Mikko Rantanen had four points and netted the final goal of the night into an empty net, his 13th point of the campaign. Goaltender Philipp Grubauer made 27 saves, only allowing goals from Devils players Nico Hischier, Taylor Hall and Brian Boyle, to earn his first win with Colorado. New Jersey netminder Keith Kinkaid stopped 29-of-33 pucks. The Avalanche outshot the Devils 34-30.

The Hurricanes were defeated 4-2 by the Tampa Bay Lighting on Tuesday. Carolina's Micheal Ferland and Martin Necas scored in the first and second periods, but a hat trick from Tyler Johnson and a single tally from Yanni Gourde lifted the Lightning to victory. Carolina goalie Petr Mrazek made 23-of-26 saves. The Hurricanes outshot Tampa Bay 40-27.

Last Time They Met 

The Avs fell 3-1 at Carolina when the teams last met on Feb. 10. Mikko Rantanen and J.T. Compher assisted Tyson Barrie when the defenseman opened the scoring for the night, but Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward turned away the other 29 shots the Avalanche sent at him. Carolina forward Brock McGinn notched two goals, and Jeff Skinner scored midway through the third period to complete the night. Colorado goaltender Semyon Varlamov made 32-of-35 saves.

What To Watch

Top Trios

The Avalanche's first line--made up of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen--has generated 32 points (14 goals, 18 assists) this season. Ten of those points came from the Avs' most recent contest, as the top line added four goals and six assists in the victory at New Jersey on Thursday. Both Rantanen and MacKinnon have notched points in each game Colorado has played this season. In addition, Landeskog's third career three-goal performance puts him tied for the fifth-most hat tricks by an Avalanche player since 1995-96. The captain also stands tied for first in the NHL with a plus-9 rating.

Carolina's top line consists of Micheal Ferland, Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen. The trio has scored a combined 26 points (nine goals, 17 assists) this season and are also the Hurricanes' top three scorers through seven games.

Special Teams

Colorado went 1-for-6 on the power play in the last outing and now posts a 25.9-percent overall success rate on the man advantage, which ranks 11th in the NHL. The Avs are also fifth in the league while shorthanded, shutting down their opponents' power-play opportunities 88.2 percent of the time. 

Carolina has an 8-percent success rate on the man advantage this season, tied for 28th in the league. The team's penalty-kill unit stands at 31st in the NHL, having nullified only 63.6 percent of its short-handed binds. 

Players To Watch

Colorado: Right Wing Mikko Rantanen

Following his performance on Thursday, Rantanen was first in the league in assists (11) and is tied for second overall in points scored (13). The Finnish forward has registered at least one helper in each contest to begin the season, ranking second behind John-Michael Liles (nine games, 2010-11) for the longest assist streak to start a season.

Carolina: Right Wing Sebastian Aho

Aho has notched a point in seven straight games, racking up 12 points (four goals, eight assists) to lead the team. The 21-year-old was named the NHL's Third Star for the week ending on Oct. 14 after recording seven points (three goals, four assists) in three games, including matching a career high with four points (two goals, two assists) versus the Minnesota Wild on Oct. 13.

The Details

Saturday's matchup against Carolina is slated to begin at 11 a.m. MT. The matinee can be watched live on Altitude TV (with coverage starting at 10:30 a.m.) or streamed on the AltitudeNOW app or NHL.tv. The radio broadcast can be heard on Altitude Sports Radio 92.5 FM in the Denver area and online at ColoradoAvalanche.com.

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