The Colorado Avalanche ends a stretch of four-straight matchups against the Vegas Golden Knights tonight at Ball Arena, and the team will use the same lineup as it did in Saturday's 3-2 win outdoors at Lake Tahoe.
The Avs had five players return to its lineup in that victory, including forwards Matt Calvert, Tyson Jost and Gabriel Landeskog and defensemen Samuel Girard and Cale Makar. Makar played 24:10 after missing two games with an upper-body injury while Girard registered 20:48 of ice time and scored the first goal of the outing.
Philipp Grubauer will be between the pipes tonight, his fifth-straight start. He is tied for second in the NHL with nine wins, trailing only the Toronto Maple Leafs' Frederik Andersen (11), who has appeared in four more contests.
Grubauer ranks fourth in the league in goals-against average (1.67) and fifth in save percentage (.936), although none of the players ahead of him on either list have played more than six games.
Colorado has won two of the first three meetings against Vegas, with all three matchups being decided by one goal. The Golden Knights are the first opponent to ever face the Avalanche/Nordiques four consecutive times in the regular season. The Avs and Wild were supposed to face off in four straight from Jan. 30-Feb. 4, but the final game of that stretch was postponed.
The Avalanche has won five consecutive home games, outscoring the opposition 23-6, including a 20-4 edge in the category its last four at Ball Arena (the outdoor game on Saturday in Tahoe counted as a "home" contest). Colorado's five consecutive home wins is the longest active streak in the NHL and one shy of the league's longest run in 2020-21 (six straight by the Tampa Bay Lightning from Jan. 13-Feb. 5).
Defenseman Erik Johnson has been out since he suffered an upper-body injury on Jan. 30 and is making progress, but head coach Jared Bednar said he does not have a timetable on the veteran's return after today's morning skate.
Goaltender Pavel Francouz also remains out long term with a lower-body injury while netminder Hunter Miska was removed from the NHL's COVID protocol list on Friday and skated with the group this morning. Prospect rear guard Dennis Gilbert had surgery recently and will be out four-to-six weeks while recovering from his upper-body injury.
Below is the Avalanche's projected lineup based on the forward combinations and defensive pairings from the start of Saturday's game at Lake Tahoe. They are subject to change.
95 Andre Burakovsky - 29 Nathan MacKinnon - 96 Mikko Rantanen
20 Brandon Saad - 91 Nazem Kadri - 72 Joonas Donskoi
92 Gabriel Landeskog - 37 J.T. Compher - 17 Tyson Jost
13 Valeri Nichushkin - 41 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - 11 Matt Calvert
7 Devon Toews - 8 Cale Makar
49 Samuel Girard - 27 Ryan Graves
4 Bowen Byram - 22 Conor Timmins
31 Philipp Grubauer
30 Adam Werner
Taxi Squad: Sheldon Dries, Jacob MacDonald, Jayson Megna, Hunter Miska, Logan O'Connor, Dan Renouf
Injury Report: Dennis Gilbert (upper body), Erik Johnson (upper body), Pavel Francouz (lower body)