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Division Collision in Avalanche at Stars

Colorado and Dallas are separated by three points in the Western Conference playoff race

by Dan Vatch / ColoradoAvalanche.com

The Colorado Avalanche (29-26-12) takes on the Dallas Stars (34-27-5) on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. MT at American Airlines Center for the third of four meetings between the Central Division foes this season.

In the all-time series, Colorado has a 45-32-17 record since the 1995-96 season, including a 2-0-0 mark in two contests this year. Nathan MacKinnon paces the club with six points (two goals, four assists) in those matchups.

After the one-game road trip to Dallas, the Avs return home for a four-game homestand beginning on Saturday at 1 p.m. MT against the Buffalo Sabres.

Last Time Out

The Avs captured a 4-3 overtime win on Tuesday at Pepsi Center against the Detroit Red Wings. Mikko Rantanen factored in on three of the club's four goals, posting a marker and two assists. Tyson Barrie charted his ninth multi-point game of the season with a goal and a helper while Nathan MacKinnon added an assist and notched the game winner in the extra frame. J.T. Compher netted a first-period tally, his 30th point of the year, and Carl Soderberg, Colin Wilson and Gabriel Landeskog each contributed an assist. Netminder Semyon Varlamov picked up his sixth win in his last nine starts, posting 20 stops in the victory.

The Stars shut out the New York Rangers 1-0 on Tuesday at American Airlines Center. Dallas goaltender Ben Bishop notched his fourth whitewash of the year, making saves on all 28 shots he faced. John Klingberg scored what proved to be the game-winning goal for the Stars in the second frame off an assist from Miro Heiskanen.

Last Time They Met

The Avs beat the Stars in a high-scoring 6-4 affair at Pepsi Center on Dec. 15. Nathan MacKinnon notched a goal and three assists while Mikko Rantanen (two goals, one assist) and Gabriel Landeskog (two goals) each added multi-point efforts on the night. Matt Calvert reached the back of the net for the Avalanche, as helpers were registered by Tyson Barrie, Matt Nieto, J.T. Compher and Erik Johnson. Colorado went 3-for-7 on the power play and Semyon Varlamov made 38 saves between the pipes in the victory.

What To Watch

Advantage Avs

The Avalanche has capitalized on the power play in seven of its last eight contests and four straight games. Colorado has a 22.7 percent success rate with the man advantage this season, tied for seventh in the league. Three of Colorado's nine total goals against Dallas this year have come on the power play.

Power Couple

Mikko Rantanen (29 goals, 56 assists) and Nathan MacKinnon (34 goals, 50 assists) rank fifth and sixth (tied) in the NHL scoring race, respectively. The last time a pair of teammates both finished in the top five in league scoring was the 2013-14 campaign when Ryan Getzlaf (87 points) finished second and Corey Perry (82 points) finished fifth for the Anaheim Ducks.  

Players To Watch

Colorado: Right Wing Mikko Rantanen

The Nousiainen, Finland, native posted a three-point night against the Red Wings to set new career highs in points (85) and assists (56) so far this year. Rantanen has recorded multi-point performances in three of his last five matchups against Dallas, registering eight points (four goals, four assists) over that stretch.

Dallas: Defenseman John Klingberg

The 26-year-old blueliner leads the Stars and ranks 11th in the NHL with 24:40 of ice time per game. He has reached the scoresheet in six of his last eight outings, posting eight points (two goals, six assists) in those matchups. Since his league debut in 2014, the Gothenburg, Sweden, native has totaled 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in 19 career games against the Avs, the most of any Dallas defenseman.

Lineup Notes

Avalanche defenseman Nikita Zadorov did not make the trip to Dallas with his team as he will stay in Denver for further evaluation following an upper-body injury suffered versus Detroit, head coach Jared Bednar said after practice on Wednesday. Rookie Ryan Graves will take Zadorov's spot on the blue line against the Stars. The Avs also recalled Andrew Agozzino from the Colorado Eagles of the American Hockey League on Wednesday, but it is unknown if he will play.

The Details

Thursday's clash between the Avalanche and Stars is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. MT. The game can be watched locally on Altitude or streamed on select devices with the AltitudeNOW app (in market) or NHL.tv (out of market). The radio broadcast can be heard on Altitude Sports Radio FM 92.5 in the Denver area or online at ColoradoAvalanche.com.

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