The Colorado Avalanche migrates south to continue its six-game road trip and looks to earn its sixth win of the season when it takes on the Florida Panthers on Friday.
The Avalanche fell for the first time this year in Wednesday night's 3-2 overtime loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Nathan MacKinnon's tying goal in the third period forced extra minutes and kept the team's point streak alive.
Matt Calvert scored his first goal of the season when he lasered a feed from Matt Nieto for a 1-0 lead in the first period. The game was tied 2-2 at the end of regulation and Penguins forward Brandon Tanev scored the overtime winner with just over a minute remaining in the extra frame.
The Avs now turn their attention to the Panthers (2-2-2), who won their last game 6-4 over the New Jersey Devils on Monday.
This will be the first of two meetings between the Avalanche and Panthers this year, both coming in short order as Florida travels to Colorado for the rematch on October 30. The teams split the inter-conference series last year. The Avs broke through with three goals in the third period to win 5-2 on December 6, before losing to Florida 4-3 in overtime on February 25.
Avalanche at Florida Panthers
BB&T Center | Sunrise, Fla.
Joonas Donskoi was a fourth-round pick (99th overall) of the Panthers in 2010... Joel Quenneville was Colorado's head coach from 2005-08 and was an assistant on the Avalanche's 1996 Stanley Cup team... Mark Barberio and Panthers forward Brett Connolly played together in the Tampa Bay Lightning's systems from 2012-15… Nikita Zadorov and Panthers defenseman Mark Pysyk were teammates briefly on the Buffalo Sabres in 2014-15 … Nathan MacKinnon and Aleksander Barkov were drafted first and second overall to the Avalanche and Panthers, respectively, in the 2013 NHL Draft… Henrik Borgstrom played at the University of Denver.
The Avalanche is 24-10-7 all-time against the Panthers, and has won three of its last four meetings with Florida. In those games, which date back to the start of the 2017-18 season, Mikko Rantanen leads the way with five points (three goals, two assists).
Nazem Kadri leads the current Avalanche players in points against the Panthers with 25 (nine goals, 16 assists) in 28 career games.
The Avs are 12-3-2 on the road against the Panthers since relocating to Denver, 14-3-2 with the 1996 Stanley Cup Final included.
The Avalanche did not practice on Thursday following its 3-2 overtime loss in Pittsburgh on Wednesday… With the contest being the first half of a back-to-back, goaltenders Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz are expected to split the starts in Florida and Tampa Bay… Grubauer stopped 30 of the 33 shots he faced in Pittsburgh and has yet to lose a game in regulation this year (4-0-1).
The Avalanche entered Wednesday night's game at full health for the first time this season as J.T. Compher returned from his injury.
SCOUTING THE PANTHERS
After their 6-4 win over the New Jersey Devils on Monday, the Panthers moved to 2-2-2 on the season. Florida finished with a 36-32-14 record a year ago, missing the playoffs after placing fifth in the Atlantic Division. Aleksandar Barkov recorded 96 points (35 goals, 61 assists), the 10th most in the NHL.
Florida leads the league with an average of 38.2 shots per game and has eight skaters with at least four points through six games. They are also averaging 3.17 goals per game, but they've surrendered 22 goals against for the seventh-highest average (3.67) in the NHL.
(OPPOSING) PLAYER TO WATCH: Mike Hoffman
Mike Hoffman has eight points so far through six games (five goals, three assists), three of which have come on the power play (two goals, one assist). Hoffman turned in a hat-trick during Florida's 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Oct. 5, making him one of six players so far with at least three goals in one game.
Hoffman, who played his first five NHL seasons with the Ottawa Senators, has 12 points in 10 career games against Colorado (five goals, seven assists). In the most recent matchup against the Avs, on Feb. 25, Hoffman scored the tying goal for the Panthers in the third period and assisted on the game-winner for a 4-3 Florida victory in overtime.
When the Avalanche has led after one period, it's 3-0-0 this season.
The Avalanche is averaging four goals per game, which is tied for the second-highest percentage in the NHL (Nashville Predators: 4.29).
Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen have each recorded at least one point in all six games for the Avalanche. Rantanen has 10 points total (four goals, six assists) while MacKinnon has nine (three goals, six assists).
The games on Friday and Saturday against the Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning, respectively, will mark the first of seven back-to-back sets with both outings on the road for the Avs this season … The Avalanche has picked up points in each game it has played this season (5-0-1), the first time it has done that through the first six contests since 2013-14 (6-0-0) … Cale Makar's point streak ended on Wednesday at five games, tied for the second-longest by a rookie defenseman to begin their career in NHL history.