Two points out of first place in the Western Conference, the Colorado Avalanche has a chance to pull ahead the leading St. Louis Blues during a four-game homestand, which starts on Wednesday against the New York Rangers.
The Avs are coming off a split in their final back-to-back set of the season, beating the San Jose Sharks 4-3 on Sunday before dropping a 3-1 contest at the Los Angeles Kings on Monday. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare cut the deficit to 2-1 early in the third period in L.A., scoring off a pass from Ian Cole, but the Kings extended their lead and sealed the victory with a tally late in the third period.
The Rangers beat the Dallas Stars 4-2 on Tuesday. New York raced out to a 4-0 lead through two periods as Mika Zibanejad scored his team-leading 40th goal--and 10th in his last five games--before Kaapo Kakko tallied twice in the second period. Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin made 31-of-33 saves.
This will be the second and final meeting between the Avs and Rangers this season. Colorado lost 5-3 at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 7 in the first matchup
dnesday's 8 p.m. MT puck drop will mark the second and final meeting between these two teams this season. The Islanders defeated the Avalanche 1-0 on Jan. 6.
Avalanche vs. New York Rangers
Pepsi Center | Denver, Colo.
COLORADO-NEW YORK CONNECTIONS
Vladislav Namestnikov began this season with the Rangers after spending all of the 2018-19 and the end of 2017-18 with New York… Ryan Graves was drafted by New York in 2013 (No. 110 overall)… J.T. Compher and Rangers forward Phillip Di Giuseppe were teammates for a season at Michigan (2013-14)... Rangers head coach David Quinn was an assistant coach with Colorado in 2012-13 and spent three seasons as the team's AHL head coach for the Lake Erie Monsters (2009-2012)… New York assistant coach David Oliver spent 11 seasons with the Avalanche organization working in a variety of positions, including in minor-league operations and player development... Rangers assistant general manager Chris Drury was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques in 1994 and spent his first four NHL seasons with the Avalanche, winning a Stanley Cup in 2001... Colin Wilson's father, Carey, played parts of two seasons with the Rangers (1988-90)... Rangers forward Brendan Lemieux was born in Denver and is the son of former Avalanche player Claude Lemieux, who played for the team from 1995-1999.
The Avalanche lost 5-3 to the Rangers on Jan. 7 in New York City despite getting goals from J.T. Compher and Nathan MacKinnon to spot the team a 2-0 lead in the first period. New York scored three straight before Compher tallied his second goal to tie the game at 3-3 in the second period. The Rangers went on to score the go-ahead marker and an empty-netter to take the victory.
The Avs are 4-5-1 in their last 10 contests against the Rangers, but before that they were 16-5-0 in the previous 21 games in the all-time series dating back to December 1998. Joe Sakic leads the franchise with 41 points in 37 games against the Rangers (14 goals, 27 assists), and Nathan MacKinnon leads the current roster with 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in 13 games. Since moving to Denver in 1995, Colorado is 21-14-2 against the Rangers.
The Avalanche returned from Los Angeles on Tuesday and did not practice… Goaltender Pavel Francouz started both games in the back-to-back set in California… Nikita Zadorov returned to the lineup on Monday after being scratched for the previous two contests… Martin Kaut and Sheldon Dries were reassigned to the American Hockey League's Colorado Eagles on Tuesday afternoon, but Kaut was recalled on Wednesday morning on an emergency basis.
Nathan MacKinnon (lower body) did not return to action on Monday after leaving in the second period. Head coach Jared Bednar did not have an update on his status postgame... Andre Burakovsky (upper body/lower body), Matt Calvert (lower body), Philipp Grubauer (lower body), Nazem Kadri (lower body), Cale Makar (upper body) and Mikko Rantanen (upper body) continue to progress, and most have started skating… Colin Wilson (lower body) continues to rehab and train off the ice following two surgeries earlier this season.
The Rangers (37-28-4) are in seventh place in the competitive Metropolitan Division and just three points out of the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, posting a 14-7-0 mark since Jan. 31. During this stretch, New York has averaged 3.48 goals per game, the third-highest rate in the NHL. Though the Rangers have struggled on the penalty kill in the last 21 games--stopping just 75.5 percent (tied for fifth-worst)--the team has compensated with the second-most prolific man-advantage unit in the NHL, scoring on 27.9 percent of its power plays.
Overall this season, the Rangers have the fifth-highest conversion rate on the man advantage (23.3 percent) and the 21st-ranked penalty-kill rate (77.8 percent). Artemi Panarin has the fourth-most points in the NHL with 94 (32 goals, 62 assists), while Mika Zibanejad is second on the team with 74 points (40 goals, 34 assists).
(OPPOSING) PLAYER TO WATCH: Mika Zibanejad
Mike Zibanejad has 74 points (40 goals, 34 assists), including a league-high 39 (23 goals, 16 assists) since Jan. 16. He has not gone more than one game without a point since Jan. 11-13 and has 23 points (16 goals, seven assists) in his last 12 contests.
Zibanejad, who's on a five-game goal streak (10 goals) and was named the league's First Star of the week on Monday, scored five goals against the Washington Capitals on March 5 to become just the sixth player in the NHL to do so since 1995. He had two points (one goal, one assist) in the first meeting with the Avs this season and has five goals and two assists in 13 games in his career versus Colorado.
Pavel Francouz is 7-2-1 since Feb 19, the most wins for any goaltender in that timeframe.
With an assist on Monday, Ian Cole set a new career high with 22 assists on the year. He also needs one more point to break his single-season career high (26 points).
The number of wins the Avalanche has when it scores at least two goals in a game (not including shootouts). Colorado owns a 40-12-8 record in those contests.
This is the second-to-last contest Colorado will play against the opposing conference, with the team skating in its final game against an Eastern team on March 21 against the Montreal Canadiens… The Avs are 20-6-4 against Eastern Conference clubs this season… During the Avs' 16-5-2 stretch since Jan. 15, Colorado has won 689 faceoffs, sixth-most in the NHL in that span… Gabriel Landeskog recorded 13 points (five goals, eight assists) during his eight-game point streak from Feb. 22 to March 8, tied for the third-most points in the NHL during that stretch… Landeskog has 198 career goals, two shy of becoming the fourth player in Avs history to reach the 200 mark (since 1995-96)… Colorado will also play the Vancouver Canucks, Vegas Golden Knights and San Jose Sharks during this homestand.