The Colorado Avalanche will host the Buffalo Sabres to wrap up its current five-game homestand on Tuesday at Pepsi Center. It is the first of two meetings between the two clubs and the only one at Pepsi Center.
The Avalanche is 12-11-2 so far this campaign and is 8-4-1 on home ice. Buffalo is 6-17-4 this season and has lost its last four contests.
The clubs split the season series last year with the home team winning each outing. Colorado is 16-9-4 all-time against Buffalo (since 1995-96), including a 9-4-2 record at home.
Last Time Out
The Avalanche fell 7-2 to the Dallas Stars at Pepsi Center on Sunday. Goaltender Jonathan Bernier started in net but was relieved by Semyon Varlamov midway through the contest. Mikko Rantanen and Blake Comeau scored for the Avalanche, but five Dallas skaters had multi-point efforts. Colorado finished 0-for-3 on the power play, just the third time the Avs have been without a man-advantage goal at home this season--all three occasions coming against the Stars.
The Sabres fell 5-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins to complete a home-and-home series on Saturday. Jason Pominville scored Buffalo's only marker halfway through the third period after receiving the puck from Jack Eichel and Evander Kane. Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang each registered two points for the Penguins.
Last Time They Met
Netminder Jeremy Smith earned his first NHL win as the Avalanche defeated the Sabres 5-3 on Feb. 25. Gabriel Landeskog had a three-point outing with two goals and a helper. Blake Comeau also had a multi-point effort as he assisted on Landeskog's second marker and tallied a goal of his own in the second period. Mikhail Grigorenko and Tyson Barrie also scored for Colorado, while Sam Reinhart, Marcus Foligno and Evan Rodrigues each found the back of the net for Buffalo.
What to Watch
Sweet Home Special Teams
Colorado's penalty-kill unit continues to dissolve short-handed situations at Pepsi Center, as it ranks fourth in the NHL at 91.1 percent, allowing just four goals in 45 chances on home ice. Additionally, the Avs have scored with an extra man on the ice in 10 of their 13 home games and rank fifth in the NHL with a 26.9 home power-play percentage.
The Return of Colin Wilson
After missing the last three contests with a lower-body injury, Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said after practice on Monday that Colin Wilson should return to the lineup against Buffalo. He was on a line with Sven Andrighetto, Gabriel Bourque and Nail Yakupov during the practice session, and one of those forwards is likely to sit for the game against Buffalo as a healthy scratch. Wilson has registered one goal and four assists in 16 contests this season.
Player to Watch
Colorado: Left Wing Blake Comeau
Veteran forward Blake Comeau has played 17 career games against Buffalo and has registered 10 points (four goals, six assists) in those contests. He found the back of the net in his last outing to improve to six goals on the season. This campaign, he has skated in all 25 of Colorado's contests and has recorded 11 points.
Buffalo: Center Ryan O'Reilly
The 26-year-old forward has registered 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) through 27 games this season, third best on the Sabres squad. His seven tallies tie him for second on the team in goals. O'Reilly played his first six seasons in the NHL with Colorado.
Forward Rocco Grimaldi was recalled from the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League on Monday. He is likely to play on a line with Alexander Kerfoot and Tyson Jost versus Buffalo.
Semyon Varlamov will start in net for Colorado.
The contest between the Avalanche and the Sabres is scheduled for 7 p.m. MT on Tuesday, and tickets are still available. The game will be televised on Altitude and the radio broadcast can be heard on Altitude Sport Radio AM 950 or online at Colorado Avalanche.com