The Colorado Avalanche takes on the Ottawa Senators in the first of a two-game series on Friday. Though Colorado is listed as the home team, both teams have had to travel for this pair of matches. The clubs are taking part in the 2017 SAP NHL Global Series in Stockholm, Sweden.
The Avalanche has an overall record of 15-12-2-0 in 29 meetings with the Senators (since 1995-96). Colorado and Ottawa will play twice in two days for their only meetings during the 2017-18 season.
Senators (6-3-5) and Avs (8-6) are both coming off losses in their last contests. The Senators will have had a five-day break from competing before returning to the ice, while the Avs will have had four days without a game.
Last Time Out
The Colorado Avalanche fell 6-4 to the New York Islanders on Sunday, breaking a three-game winning streak. After the first 20 minutes, the Avalanche was down by two until Nathan Mackinnon found Erik Johnson's rebound to put the Avs on the scoreboard less than a minute into the second period. Colorado then surrendered three in a row before the halfway mark of the middle frame. Gabriel Landeskog found the twine before the second intermission to cut the Islanders' lead to three. Alexander Kerfoot tallied two goals in the last minute of the contest to land the Avs within two as the final horn blew.
The Senators were outscored 5-4 by the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday. Ottawa was down 3-2 going into the final 20 minutes until Vegas scored two unanswered markers to give it a 5-2 lead. Ryan Dzingel and Erik Karlsson both found the back of the net in a late push to bring the Senators back within one, but time expired before the squad was able to extend the game into overtime.
Last Time They Met
The last matchup between Colorado and Ottawa was March 11 in which the Senators extended a six-game win streak with a 4-2 victory over the Avalanche. The Avs headed into the first intermission with a 1-0 lead behind a tally from Matt Nieto. Ottawa found the back of the net three times in the middle frame, causing a deficit Colorado was never able to dig out of despite a third period marker from Sven Andrighetto.
What to Watch
Rookie defenseman Samuel Girard will make his Avalanche debut after being acquired as part of a three-team trade with the Nashville Predators and Ottawa Senators on Sunday. Girard traveled and joined the club for practice on Tuesday.
"He's an exciting player," said general manager Joe Sakic. "He's got a lot of skill, a lot of talent. He can see the ice really well, so we like what he is going to bring."
The young blueliner had three points (one goal and two assists) in five games this season with the Predators.
Finding an Identity
Identity has been a word that is heard frequently from head coach Jared Bednar when describing the Avalanche squad this campaign. Though perfecting that identity won't happen overnight, it is part of a mindset that has traveled with the team overseas.
"Our message I think from the start of the year has been about establishing the identity of this group. The way we play and some of the things we are trying do on a daily basis starts with our work ethic, our compete level and how we skate," Bednar said. "Finding that consistency and making sure we are working to get better every day is our key for this weekend's games here in Sweden."
Player to Watch
Colorado: Forward Gabriel Landeskog
Gabriel Landeskog, a Stockholm native, gets to hit the ice in his hometown for the first time in his NHL career on Friday. The Colorado Avalanche captain has registered 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 14 games this campaign, landing him fourth on the team in scoring.
Ottawa: Defenseman Erik Karlsson
Ottawa captain Erik Karlsson, a Landsbro, Sweden, native, also gets a taste of home this weekend. In nine games this season, the blueliner has 13 points (one goal, 12 assists) and is tied for second in team scoring. In the Senators' last outing, Karlsson found the back of the net for the first time this year and recorded just under 30 minutes on the ice.
Stockholm native Patrik Nemeth won't hit the ice with Colorado on Friday as he's out with an undisclosed injury. He hasn't taken part in any of the team's two practices while in Sweden.
Carl Soderberg didn't make the trip to Sweden due to his wife expecting the family's third child.
Goaltender Semyon Varlamov is expected to make his ninth start between the pipes for the Avalanche this campaign.
The puck drop is scheduled at 12 p.m. MT on Friday for the first of two games at the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, Sweden. Friday's game will be televised on Altitude TV and NHL Network. The radio broadcast can be heard on Altitude Sports Radio AM 950 or online at ColoradoAvalanche.com.