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Colorado Faces Nashville In Afternoon Affair

Avalanche is 3-0-0 so far on its four-game homestand

by Scott MacDonald / ColoradoAvalanche.com

The Colorado Avalanche (35-24-5) wraps up its four-game homestand on Sunday afternoon against the Western Conference-leading Nashville Predators (41-14-9). This is the third of four meetings this season between the two clubs, who will meet again in Denver on March 16.

Nashville has won both of the previous matchups in the series, but Sunday's is the first game between the Central-Division foes in Denver.

The Avs are 31-34-11 all-time against the Predators but own a more favorable record at home, going 18-16-4 at Pepsi Center.

Last Time Out

The Avalanche routed the Minnesota Wild on Friday by a score of 7-1. Nathan MacKinnon continued his tear as of late, recording five points (two goals, three assists) in the win. Mikko Rantanen also had himself a strong night, recording his 21st goal of the season and adding three helpers. Carl Soderberg, Matt Nieto, Tyson Barrie and Gabriel Landeskog also scored, and Samuel Girard and Patrick Nemeth had two assists each in the win. Semyon Varlamov made 31 saves in the victory.

The Nashville Predators won 4-3 in overtime at the Vancouver Canucks on Friday night. Calle Jarnkrok and Ryan Ellis each netted a goal and an assist, and Mike Fisher and Kevin Fiala also found the back of the net. Viktor Arvidsson also had two helpers, and goaltender Jusse Saros made 24 saves to help the Preds win their seventh game in a row, the longest active streak in the NHL.

Last Time They Met

Colorado fell 5-2 to the Predators in Nashville on Nov. 18. J.T. Compher and Andrei Mironov scored the goals for the Avalanche, and Alexander Kerfoot assisted on both. The Predators went 2-for-4 on the power play while the Avs went 0-for-7. Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov made 19 saves in the effort. Craig Smith (one goal, one assist) and Kevin Fiala (two assist) each had two-point performances for Nashville.

What To Watch

Lighting the Lamp

Sunday's matinee matchup will feature two of the league's highest scoring clubs. The Avalanche ranks ninth in goals per game with 3.14 while the Predators have a slight advantage ranking sixth (3.2) in the league. Nashville is also one of the hardest teams to score against, as it is second in the NHL in goals allowed with an average of 2.5 per game.

Special Teams Square Off

The Nashville Predators power play is top five in the NHL with a 22.7-percent conversion rate, ranking fourth in the league. The Avalanche penalty-kill unit is also top five in its respective category, with an 83.3-percent success rate that is fourth in the league. The Preds' man advantage has gone 3-for-11 in their last five games, while the Avs have killed off their last 10 infractions in a row and have gone 13-of-15 in their last five games.

Player To Watch

Nashville: Defenseman P.K. Subban

The Predators defenseman is tied for the team lead in assists with 34 and is the outright leader in points (49). In his two matchups against the Avalanche this season, Subban has two total points (two assists). The D-man has 31 points (11 goals, 20 assists) in his last 35 games.

Colorado: Defenseman Patrik Nemeth

Patrik Nemeth had two assists in the Avs' win on Friday versus the Minnesota Wild for his second multi-point game of the season and the fourth of his career. Nemeth also had a career-high plus-4 rating in the contest and is now tied for sixth in the NHL in plus/minus rating (plus-26). His three goals, 11 assists and 14 points on the season are all career highs.

Lineup Notes

Goaltender Semyon Varlamov is expected to make his eighth straight start in net for Colorado, while Colin Wilson is doubtful to play against his former club after suffering a concussion versus Minnesota.

The Details

It's family day at the Pepsi Center on Sunday, and the matinee is slated to begin at 1 p.m. MT. The contest can be watched live on Altitude TV and can be heard in the Denver area on Altitude Sports Radio AM 950 or online at ColoradoAvalanche.com. Tickets are still available.

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