Following a four-game series against the Vegas Golden Knights, the Colorado Avalanche hosts the Minnesota Wild for the second time this season on Wednesday at Ball Arena.
Colorado (9-5-1) fell 3-0 versus the Golden Knights on Monday, splitting the four-game set against the club. Goaltender Philipp Grubauer started in his fifth straight contest for the Avs, stopping 25-of-28 shots, while the team outshot Vegas 34-28 but couldn't capitalize on its opportunities.
Minnesota is coming off its third consecutive victory, defeating the San Jose Sharks 6-2 on Monday. Mats Zuccarello registered four points (one goals, three assists) in his fourth contest of the campaign, extending his point streak to three games. Victor Rask (one goal, two assists), Kirill Kaprizov (one goal, one assist) and Marcus Foligno (one goal, one assist) all recorded multi-point efforts along with Zuccarello, as netminder Kaapo Kahkonen made 31 saves.
Wednesday's meeting between the Avs and Wild was originally scheduled for Feb. 4, but the matchup was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols.
Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild
Ball Arena | Denver, Colo.
Erik Johnson is from Bloomington, Minnesota, and played one season at the University of Minnesota (2006-07)... Avalanche netminder Hunter Miska is from North Branch, Minnesota and played at Minnesota Duluth (2016-17)… Wild defenseman Ian Cole spent the last two-plus seasons with Colorado… Minnesota goaltender Andrew Hammond spent part of the 2017-18 campaign with the Avalanche… Wild assistant coaches Darby Hendrickson (2003-2004) and Brett McLean (2005-2007) played for the Avs.
The Avs have won two of the first three meetings against the Wild this season, owning a 2-0-1 mark. Before Colorado's 2-1 victory over Minnesota on Feb. 2, the club defeated Minnesota 5-1 in the opening matchup of the series on Jan. 30, receiving goals from five different players. The Wild evened the series on Jan. 31, securing a 4-3 overtime win with Jonas Brodin's first-career overtime marker.
Through the first three contests of the campaign against its division rival, the Avalanche has a plus-four goal differential over Minnesota, converting on 14.3 percent of its power-play opportunities with an 87.5 penalty-kill percentage.
In 109 all-time games between the clubs, the Avs sport a 52-43-14 record versus the Wild, including a 7-5-0 mark in the last 12 matchups at Ball Arena. Wednesday's meeting is the fourth of eight between Colorado and Minnesota this season.
Colorado had an off day on Monday, so its lineup likely won't be known until after morning skate. The Avs have utilized the same lineup for the past two games. Goaltender Philipp Grubauer has started 13-of-15 contests this campaign, including the last five for the Avalanche.
Pavel Francouz (lower body) and Erik Johnson (upper body) are both out indefinitely with injuries. Defenseman Dennis Gilbert underwent surgery for an upper-body injury and is expected to miss four-to-six weeks, according to head coach Jared Bednar.
SCOUTING THE WILD
Minnesota looks to get its power play rolling after notching power-play markers in two consecutive contests for the first time this season. The club's power play unit ranks 29th in the league, converting on 9.1 percent of opportunities. On the other hand, the Wild have scored 34 goals at even strength, the 17th most in the NHL and are tied for second in the league in three-on-three goals with three (Florida Panthers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Winnipeg Jets).
The Wild hold a 9-6-0 record, slotting in at sixth place in the West Division (18 points), including a 3-1-0 mark since returning to play after 13 days off because of COVID-19 protocols. Kirill Kaprizov leads all rookies with 13 points (four goals, nine assists) and ranks first on Minnesota in scoring.
(OPPOSING) PLAYER TO WATCH: JORDAN GREENWAY
Minnesota forward Jordan Greenway has tallied two goals and nine assists in 15 contests, ranking second on the team in scoring. Greenway has registered at least a point in eight games this season, including three multi-point efforts thus far. The forward ranks fourth on the Wild in hits, recording 23 on the campaign. Greenway is in his fourth NHL season and has notched 22 goals and 42 helpers in 169 career games for Minnesota.
When facing the Avs, the forward has compiled five points (two goals, three assists) in 10 career games. Greenway leads all skaters in points through the first three contests against this Avs this season, tallying one goal and two assists.
Philipp Grubauer's 1.78 goals-against average is the third best in the league for netminders who have played five or more games, trailing only Vegas' Marc-Andre Fleury and the Boston Bruins' Jaroslav Halak.
The Avalanche has won the faceoff battle in four of its last five contests, averaging a 53.7 faceoff win percentage in those games. The Avs rank 10th in the NHL in faceoff win percentage, winning 52.0 percent of draws this year.
Nathan MacKinnon skated in his 539th career game in an Avalanche sweater on Monday, passing Paul Stastny for the 10th most contests played by an Avs player in franchise history.
The Avs hold a 4-2-0 record at Ball Arena this year, winning four out of their last five in Denver. Wednesday's matchup is the last home game before Colorado heads out on a four-game road trip versus the Arizona Coyotes and San Jose Sharks… Joonas Donskoi is one helper away from his 100th career assist… The Avalanche held its first Retro Night at Ball Arena on Monday, paying homage to the Quebec Nordiques by wearing its reverse retro jersey in celebration of the clubs 25th anniversary season in Colorado… The club's plus-12 goal differential is tied with the Winnipeg Jets for sixth in the NHL.