Without a regulation loss through seven games, the 6-0-1 Colorado Avalanche visits the Tampa Bay Lightning to conclude a back-to-back set on Saturday. It is the fourth outing of the Avs' season-long, six-game road trip.
Nathan MacKinnon wristed a shot past Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky in overtime to give the Avalanche a 5-4 win on Friday. Andre Burakovsky scored twice in the second stanza, helping the Avs eventually force extra minutes after a scoreless third period. Joonas Donskoi and Matt Nieto also scored for Colorado, which surrendered four goals but had a season-high 17 takeaways.
Tampa Bay (4-2-1) returns home after its own six-game road trip, which ended with a 4-3 shootout win over the Boston Bruins on Thursday as goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy denied all four Bruins' shootout attempts.
The Lightning and Avalanche faceoff again this season in Colorado on February 17. The Avs lost both matchups last season, 1-0 at home on October 24, then 7-1 in Tampa on December 8.
Avalanche at Tampa Bay Lightning
Amalie Arena | Tampa, Fla.
COLORADO-TAMPA BAY CONNECTIONS
Mark Barberio was drafted by Tampa Bay in 2008 (sixth round, No. 152 overall) and played his first two seasons with the Lightning from 2013-15… Avalanche assistant coach Nolan Pratt played five seasons with the Lightning, winning a Stanley Cup in 2004 … Lightning defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk was Colorado's first-round draft choice in 2007 (No. 14 overall) and began his career with the Avalanche in 2010-11… Curtis McElhinney played at Colorado College (2001-05).
The Avalanche is 22-18-5 all-time against the Lightning, including a 17-13-5 mark since moving to Colorado in 1995, but Tampa Bay is on a five-game streak in the inter-conference matchup, dating back to 2016-17.
Nathan MacKinnon has totaled 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) in 12 career games against Tampa Bay, the most he's recorded against any Eastern Conference opponent, and the highest points-per-game average of any active player against the Bolts (1.42). MacKinnon also recorded his first-career hat trick against the Lightning, in a 5-4 win on Feb. 22, 2015.
Gabriel Landeskog also recorded a hat trick against the Lightning in a 6-5 loss on Dec. 16, 2017, a game in which he notched five points (three goals, two assists) all in the last 26 minutes of action.
Pavel Francouz is expected to get the start in net on Saturday against the Lightning… Mark Barberio, Vladislav Kamenev and Valeri Nichushkin were Colorado's scratches in Florida.
Colorado entered Friday's game at full-health, though Nathan MacKinnon was a game-time decision after suffering a leg injury on Wednesday.
SCOUTING THE LIGHTNING
The Lightning picked up its fourth win of the season after knocking off the Boston Bruins in a shootout Thursday night, earning a 4-3 win. Tampa Bay is the reigning Presidents' Trophy winner after finishing 62-16-4 last year, tying an NHL record for most wins in a single season. However, the Lightning were swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Columbus Blue Jackets.
This season the Lightning has seen offensive contributions throughout its roster so far this year. In addition to Steven Stamkos, who leads the team with nine points (four goals, five assists), and 2019 Hart Memorial Trophy recipient Nikita Kutcherov, who has eight points (three goals, five assists), Tampa Bay is tied with Colorado and Carolina for the second most players (13) who have recorded at least three points so far this year.
The Bolts have won two-straight games for the first time this season and are looking for their first three-game win streak since winning seven in a row from March 9-21, 2019.
(OPPOSING) PLAYER TO WATCH: Andrei Vasilevskiy
The reigning Vezina Trophy winner, awarded to the league's best goaltender, Andrei Vasilevskiy has started the year 4-1-0 with a .921 save percentage. The 25-year old netminder led the Bolts to an NHL-high 39 wins in 2018-19 and his .925 save percentage tied for the highest among goalies who played in at least 50 games last year.
Vasilevskiy is 1-1-0 in his career against Colorado. He surrendered five goals in his first start in 2015--the night MacKinnon recorded his first hat trick--and stopped all 22 shots he faced to earn a 1-0 shutout win against the Avs on Oct. 24 last season, the first of his six shutouts last year.
Colorado has been perfect on the penalty kill for the past five games, fending off 18-of-21 power-play opportunities this season. The Avs have not allowed a power-play goal since Oct. 5 against the Minnesota Wild and are currently tied for the eighth-best penalty kill percentage in the NHL (85.7 percent).
The Avalanche is tied for second in the NHL with 13 points and is still the only team without a regulation loss.
Colorado has averaged 4.14 goals per game this season, the second highest in the NHL, trailing only the Nashville Predators (4.29).
This is the Avalanche's longest point streak to open the season (seven games) since 2000-01, in which it started 9-0-2 en route to the franchise's second Stanley Cup… Colorado has scored four or more goals in five of its seven games this season and has potted five or more goals in three of those outings… Nathan MacKinnon is tied for the team lead with 10 points (four goals, six assists) and has at least one point all seven games this season … Nikita Zadorov leads the Avalanche in hits, with 19.