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Avs Host Predators on Division Rival Night

Central Division foes meet for the first time since their playoff series

by Dan Vatch / ColoradoAvalanche.com

In its first game at Pepsi Center since Oct. 26, the Colorado Avalanche is set to face off against the Central Division rival Nashville Predators. Wednesday night's contest is the first of four regular season meetings between the clubs, and the first time the Avs will wear their alternate third jerseys this season.

Colorado will don its new Adidas sweaters in all home divisional contests for the remainder of the season, including the next time the team faces Nashville in Denver on Jan. 21.

The Avalanche went 0-3-1 in the 2017-18 regular season series against Nashville. Nathan MacKinnon (two goals, one assist), Mikko Rantanen (one goal, two assists) and Tyson Barrie (three assists) shared the team lead with three points apiece in those matchups.

Colorado has a 31-35-12 all-time record against the Predators, including a winning mark when the two teams have played in Denver at 18-17-5.

Last Time Out

On Friday, Colorado fell 7-6 in overtime to the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena in a game tied for the most combined goals in the NHL this season. Avs defensemen Ian Cole and Nikita Zadorov both scored their first goals of the season, while Sheldon Dries and Alexander Kerfoot found the back of the net one time each. Nathan MacKinnon tallied his 10th and 11th markers of the campaign, his second coming on one of the Avs' two power-play opportunities. Colorado goaltender Philipp Grubauer stopped 30 shots he faced in his fifth start of the campaign.

The Predators beat the Boston Bruins 1-0 at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday for their third straight victory. Roman Josi tallied the lone goal, and Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne stopped all 26 shots he faced to earn his second shutout of the season. Nashville is currently second in the league standings with 22 points (11-3-0), one point behind the NHL-leader Tampa Bay Lightning.

Last Time They Met

The Avalanche faced the Predators in the first round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, falling 4-2 in the series. Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog paced the Avs with seven points (four goals, three assists) in the six games, while Nathan MacKinnon had six points (three goals and three assists) and Tyson Barrie and Mikko Rantanen both contributed four assists each.

Goaltender Semyon Varlamov missed the entire series after injuring his knee late in the season. Jonathan Bernier played four games for the Avs, while Andrew Hammond started two contests.

Austin Watson (four goals, three assists) and Colton Sissons (three goals, four assists) shared the Nashville team lead with seven points each in the first-round matchup. Pekka Rinne started all six games for the Predators, posting a 2.60 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage.

What to Watch

Home Sweet Home

Last season, the Avs went 9-3-1 against Central Division opponents at Pepsi Center, taking 19 of a possible 26 points in those matchups. So far, Colorado has won its only home contest of the season against a division rival, beating the Minnesota Wild by a 4-1 score on opening night on Oct. 4.

Follow the Leaders

Gabriel Landeskog leads the Avs with 10 goals in 25 career games against Nashville, while Nathan MacKinnon ranks second on the team with four markers in 20 career tilts against the Predators. The linemates are both second in the league with 11 goals each.

Players to Watch

Colorado Defenseman Tyson Barrie

The defenseman extended his assist/point streak (six assists) to four games with a helper against the Canucks. The Victoria, British Columbia, native paces all Avs blueliners with 11 points (11 assists) on the year. He is two assists shy of reaching the 200-assist plateau, all of which have come in an Avalanche sweater, and will join Adam Foote (203) and John-Michael Liles (207) as the only defensemen in franchise history to hit that milestone when he reaches it. Barrie also presently shares second place on the franchise's defensemen scoring list with Foote (259 points) and is one goal shy of tying Rob Blake (62) for the third-most goals by a blueliner in Colorado/Quebec history.

Nashville Defenseman Roman Josi

The Bern, Switzerland, native tallied the game-winning goal for Nashville against the Bruins on Saturday. The marker was his 300th career NHL point (82 goals, 218 assists), as he became the third blueliner in Predators history to reach that milestone. Josi now trails Kimmo Timonen (79 goals, 222 assists) by one point for fourth on the Nashville all-time scoring list. The 28-year-old leads the Predators in ice time, averaging 24:42 per game, which ranks fifth among Central Division defensemen this season.

Lineup Notes

Semyon Varlamov will start in goal for the Avalanche. Tyson Jost took part in his first full practice with the team on Wednesday after missing the past three games with a head injury. Head coach Jared Bednar said Jost could possibly play versus the Predators depending how the forward is feeling.

The Details

Wednesday's clash between the Avalanche and Predators is scheduled for 8 p.m. MT. The game will be televised nationally on NBCSN and can be streamed on NHL.tv or the NBC Sports app. The radio broadcast can be heard on AM 950, Altitude Sports Radio, in the Denver area or online at ColoradoAvalanche.com.

It will be the first of 12 "Division Rival Night" games the Avs will play this season at home, with the club wearing its third jersey in each outing. Tickets are still available.

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