The Colorado Avalanche closes out 2019 and continues its stretch of divisional games when it hosts the Winnipeg Jets at Pepsi Center on Tuesday.
It is the seventh consecutive season that the Avs have hosted a game on New Year's Eve and the ninth time since moving to Denver. Overall, it is the 17 time the Avalanche will play on the final day of a calendar year, with the club going 8-5-3 in the previous 16.
Colorado dropped its last two in a back-to-back set, but the Avs earned a point in the 3-2 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars on Saturday. J.T. Compher and Ian Cole scored while Philipp Grubauer saved 38 of 40 shots through 65 minutes.
The Jets lost 4-1 to the Blues on Sunday, two nights after dropping a 5-4 contest in overtime to St. Louis.
Avalanche vs. Winnipeg Jets
Pepsi Center | Denver, Colo.
Gabriel Bourque spent the last three seasons with Colorado… Colin Wilson grew up in Winnipeg… Matt Calvert is from Brandon and played for the WHL's Wheat Kings… Erik Johnson and Jets' captain Blake Wheeler were teammates at the University of Minnesota in 2006-07… J.T. Compher and Winnipeg center Andrew Copp were teammates at the University of Michigan in 2013-14… Jets' forward Mark Scheifele and goaltender Connor Hellebuyck played with Nathan MacKinnon for Team North America at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey… Winnipeg center Nicholas Shore was born in Denver and played at the University of Denver from 2010-13.
The Avalanche beat the Jets 4-0 in their last meeting on Nov. 12 in Winnipeg. Nathan MacKinnon had four points (two goals, two assists) to aid 22-year old goaltender Adam Werner who made his NHL debut 31 seconds into the contest and stopped all 40 shots he faced.
Colorado took three of the five meetings last year against its division foe, including the last three games, and has outscored the Jets 18-4 in the last four meetings. The Avs four straight victories against Winnipeg matches their longest win streak ever against the Jets/Thrashers franchise (April 9, 2015 to Jan. 18, 2016). Overall, the Avalanche is 23-18-6 all-time against the franchise and 16-13-3 since the team moved from Atlanta to Winnipeg in 2011.
The Avalanche made some changes to its top-six forward group at practice on Monday. Joonas Donskoi skated on the first line with Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog while Mikko Rantanen played on the right side of Andre Burakovsky and Nazem Kadri.
Colin Wilson (lower body) is out indefinitely after having surgery.
SCOUTING THE JETS
The Jets (21-15-3) are in fourth place in the Central Division and have lost three straight contests (0-2-1), surrendering at least four goals in each game during the skid. Winnipeg is 11-7-1 on the road this year, tied for the sixth most wins in the league.
In total this season, the Jets are averaging 2.97 goals-per-game while allowing an average of 2.95 against. Winnipeg owns the NHL's 18th-best power play, converting on 18.5 percent of its chances, and the 30th-ranked penalty kill, stopping its opponent 72.3 percent of the time.
(OPPOSING) PLAYER TO WATCH: Mark Scheifele
Mark Scheifele, who was named to the Central Division's roster at the 2020 NHL All-Star Game, leads the team with 40 points (17 goals, 23 assists). He has recorded 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) through 12 games in December and has only been held off the scoresheet twice this month.
The Avalanche has limited Scheifele to one goal in the last four meetings, but Scheifele has 25 points (seven goals, 18 assists) in 25 career contests against Colorado.
Ian Cole, who scored in Dallas on Saturday, is on a four-game point streak (one goal, three assists), his longest since 2016-17.
The Avalanche has a plus-28 goal differential so far this year, the third best in the league.
Colorado earned its 50th point of the season on Saturday, becoming just the sixth team in the NHL, and second in the Western Conference, to reach the mark.
Nathan MacKinnon has 458 career points, tied with Paul Stastny for ninth place in franchise history and fifth place in Avalanche history… Pierre-Edouard Bellemare needs one goal and two points to tie his single-season career highs (7 goals in 2015-16 with Philadelphia and 16 points in 2017-18 with Vegas)… Winnipeg captain Blake Wheeler is expected to play in his 900th career NHL game… This is the Avalanche's second of four contests against the Jets this year. The teams meet again in Winnipeg on March 27 and in Denver on April 2… Colorado is averaging the most goals per game with 3.59… The Avalanche is 10-4-2 in its last 16 games, which included a season-best nine-game point streak (8-0-1) from Nov. 27 to Dec. 13.