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Avalanche Opens 2018 With Division Battle Against Jets

Colorado and Winnipeg meet for the second time this season

by Danielle Bernstein /

The Colorado Avalanche plays its first contest of the 2018 calendar year when it hosts the Central Division-leading Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night at Pepsi Center.

The game is the fourth of a season-long, six-game homestand for the Avs, who finished December 7-3-1 after starting the month 0-4-0. They are 2-1-0 through the first three games of the homestand.

Winnipeg holds the top spot in the division, just one point ahead of the Nashville Predators, while the Avalanche enters Tuesday's tilt just three points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Last time Out

Gabriel Landeskog (two goals and an assist) and Nathan MacKinnon (three assists) each produced three-point nights to power the Avalanche to a 6-1 win over the New York Islanders on New Year's Eve. Colorado scored two power-play goals--both off the stick of Landeskog--in a second period that saw Colorado score four times to take a 5-0 lead after 40 minutes of play. Colorado put up a season-high 48 shots, including 23 in the middle frame, ultimately outshooting the Isles 48-28.

The Jets are coming off a 5-0 shutout victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday. Connor Hellebuyck made 35 saves for his third shutout of the season, and Kyle Connor and Bryan Little each had a goal and an assist to lead the Jets. Winnipeg was 2-for-3 on the power play while holding Edmonton scoreless on two man-advantage opportunities.

Last Time They Met

Nathan MacKinnon scored a power-play goal less than a minute into overtime to help the Avalanche edge Winnipeg 3-2 on Nov. 29 at Pepsi Center. Alexander Kerfoot also notched a power-play tally, his coming in the first period to even the game at one, and both forwards finished with a goal and an assist. Nikita Zadorov tied the game at two just past the midway point of the third period. Bryan Little and Josh Morrissey were the goal scorers for the Jets, who were scoreless on four man-advantage opportunities.

What to Watch

Special Teams

The Avalanche puts its top-ranked home penalty kill against the fourth-best power-play in the league in Tuesday's matchup.

The Avalanche finished 3-for-3 on the penalty kill against the Islanders on Sunday, extending its streak to 33 consecutive kills and has now gone 11 straight games without allowing a power-play goal, the longest stretch in Avalanche history. The Avs are 59-for-63 (93.7 percent) on home ice and haven't allowed a man-advantage tally at home since Dec. 1 vs. New Jersey.

The Jets are 35-for-145 (24.1 percent) with the man advantage this season, led by Patrik Laine, whose 10 power-play goals ranks second in the NHL.

Avs With the Man Advantage

Colorado is 9-for-29 on the power play in its last seven games (31 percent) and scored two man-advantage goals in a period for the fifth time this season against the Islanders on Sunday.

Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen are pacing the Avs with six power-play tallies apiece, while Alexander Kerfoot's 11 points with the extra man are tied for fourth among league rookies.

Player to Watch

Colorado: Center Carl Soderberg

Soderberg tallied two points (goal and assist) against the Islanders on Sunday to finish the month of December with nine points (four goals and five assists). His total ranks fourth on the team for the month and matches his point totals for October and November combined.

Winnipeg: Right Wing Blake Wheeler

While he was held off the scoresheet in the first matchup of the season between these two teams, Wheeler has 31 points (11 goals and 20 assists) in 26 career contests against the Avalanche. He enters Tuesday ranked third in the NHL with 34 assists and is tied for eighth with 45 points.

The Details

Puck drop for Tuesday night's contest between the Avalanche and the Jets is slated for 7 p.m. MT, and tickets are still available. The game can be watched live on Altitude TV and the radio broadcast can be heard on Altitude Sports Radio AM 950 or online at

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