Following its longest road trip of the season, the Colorado Avalanche (21-18-8) faces the Los Angeles Kings (19-25-4) on Saturday afternoon in its first game at Pepsi Center since Jan. 4.
Colorado holds a 37-41-11 all-time mark against Los Angeles (since 1995-96), which includes a 22-19-2 record at home.
After the contest, the Avalanche will remain in Denver to battle two division rivals, the Nashville Predators on Monday and Minnesota Wild on Wednesday, before having nine days off for the All-Star Break and bye week.
Last Time Out
Mikko Rantanen became one of only four players in the NHL to reach the 70-point mark this season with a two-game contest, but the Avs fell 5-2 to the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Wednesday. Rantanen assisted on both tallies in the outing, a second period goal from Nikita Zadorov and a power-play marker from Nathan Mackinnon, who also had a two-point game (goal and assist). Colorado defenseman Tyson Barrie registered an assist, while goaltender Semyon Varlamov made 26 saves in net.
The Kings beat the Dallas Stars 2-1 at American Airlines Center on Thursday. Dustin Brown converted on a power play in the first period while Carl Hagelin notched the game-winning goal in the second frame. Drew Doughty, Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli joined their teammates on the scoreboard as all three were credited with assists in the contest. Los Angeles netminder Jack Campbell stopped 29-of-30 shots in the win.
Last Time They Met
On New Year's Eve, the Avalanche fell 3-2 in overtime to Los Angeles. Following a power-play marker from Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, Sean Walker scored his first NHL goal in the second period. MacKinnon then answered for the Avs in the third frame and Carl Soderberg found the back of the net at the end of the stanza to send the game into overtime. Dustin Brown lit the lamp 54 seconds into the extra period to end the clash. Semyon Varlamov made 15 saves as Colorado outshot L.A. 24-18.
What To Watch
After MacKinnon's tally on Wednesday, Colorado has now scored 67 goals in the third period, the second most in the NHL. Through seven clashes in the month of January, 10 of the Avalanche's 25 markers have come in the final frame. In addition, 48 percent of all goals scored by the Avs at Pepsi Center have come in the third stanza (32 of 65).
Saturday's game is the first afternoon clash Colorado has played at home this season. The club gained 11 points in seven matinee contests at Pepsi Center during the 2017-18 season (5-1-1) and will see five more daytime contests during the current campaign, including a 1 p.m. clash on Monday versus Nashville on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The Avs will play 13 afternoon games this season (5 p.m. local start time or earlier).
Players To Watch
Colorado: Center Carl Soderberg
Soderberg recorded his first career NHL hat trick in Monday's game at the Toronto Maple Leafs and registered a short-handed tally among his three goals. He is tied for the team-lead in man-disadvantage markers with two this season and has generated 28 total points (15 goals, 13 assists) through 47 games, fifth most on the Avalanche. He has three points (one goal, two assists) in two clashes against L.A. this year, bringing his career total to nine points (one goal, eight assists) in 14 all-time outings versus the Kings.
Los Angeles: Right Wing Dustin Brown
Brown is currently on a three-game point streak (one goal, two assists) and has recorded a point in six of the Kings' past seven matchups (one goals and five assists). He is second on the club in overall scoring, having notched 12 goals and 16 assists despite only playing in 38 games. He registered two points in the previous clash against Colorado (one goal, one assist), including the game-winning tally in overtime. In 51 career contests against the Avalanche, Brown has registered 37 points (16 goals, 21 assists).
The Avalanche's exact lineup won't be known until closer to puck drop, but Gabriel Bourque is expected to return to game action after the club reassigned forward Tyson Jost and defenseman Ryan Graves to the American Hockey League's Colorado Eagles on Thursday. Defenseman Patrik Nemeth could also be back in the lineup after missing the past three games with an illness.
Saturday's matchup between the Avalanche and Kings is slated for 1 p.m. MT. The game can be watched locally on Altitude or streamed on select devices with the AltitudeNOW app (in market) or on NHL.tv (out of market). The radio broadcast can be heard on Altitude Sports Radio FM 92.5 in the Denver area or online at ColoradoAvalanche.com.
The event is the first of a doubleheader at Pepsi Center and will be followed by an NBA matchup between the Denver Nuggets and Cleveland Cavaliers at 8 p.m. MT. Limited tickets are still available for both games.