The Colorado Avalanche and the Minnesota Wild clash on Sunday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. It is a quick one-game road trip for the Avs, who will face their Central-Division rival in two of their last five contests to close out 2016-17.
At 45-25-8, Minnesota has already clinched a playoff berth but is 2-6-2 in its last 10 games. The Avs are 2-1-0 against the Wild this season, winning once at home and once on the road. Colorado is 43-37-12 all-time against Minnesota, including a 20-18-8 mark on the road.
Last Time Out
The Avalanche is coming off a 2-1 shootout win over the St. Louis Blues on Friday night at Pepsi Center. The Avs trailed 1-0 after the opening frame, but J.T. Compher buried the equalizer on a power play, punching in a rebound off Nathan MacKinnon's shot near the midway point of the middle stanza. After a wild back-and-forth overtime period, Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon scored in the skills competition to secure the win for the Avalanche and snap a seven-game losing streak.
The Wild fell 3-0 to the Nashville Predators on Saturday afternoon at Bridgestone Arena. Alex Stalock, who was recalled from the Iowa Wild on March 29, started in net and finished with 33 saves. Minnesota didn't score on their lone power-play chance and held the Predators without a goal on two man-advantage opportunities.
Last Time They Met
The Avalanche lost the last meeting against the Wild, falling 2-0 at Xcel Energy Center on Dec. 20. Charlie Coyle and Mikko Koivu scored for Minnesota, and Devan Dubnyk had an 18-save shutout. The Avs were scoreless on five power-play opportunities, while Minnesota scored on one of its three man-advantage chances.
Video: Keefe and Rycroft preview Friday's game
What To Watch
Avalanche Influx of Youth
Colorado has received significant contributions from some recent additions to the roster. Sven Andrighetto, who was acquired on March 1, has totaled 11 points (five goals, six assists) in 14 games since joining Colorado. J.T. Compher has notched three goals since being recalled from the San Antonio Rampage on March 2, and Anton Lindholm, who made his NHL debut with the Avs on March 15, has been a strong presence on defense and recorded a season-high five hits on Friday.
"The thing is, young or old, what those handful of guys bring is that they can all skate and they're all intelligent players, and there's multiple facets to their game. They're helping us," said head coach Jared Bednar following Saturday's on-ice session at Family Sports Center. "Compher was playing power play and penalty kill. He's been good on the draws, especially on his right side, good on both ends of the rink. Andrighetto, we talked about his offensive production, but I love the way he tracks the puck and comes back hard into our zone and makes plays coming out of our zone and helps set up our attack. Lindholm is a good skater, good retrieval speed when he goes back for pucks. He's physical, aggressive. He's made some young mistakes, but the energy and passion that those guys play with is contagious and it's helping our group."
Wild on a Back-to-Back
Sunday's game is the second half of a back-to-back set for Minnesota, its 14th and final such set of the season. The Wild has a 6-4-3 record in the second game of a two-in-two in 2016-17.
Player to Watch
Colorado: Center Tyson Jost
Jost made his NHL debut on Friday night and finished with two shots, one hit, one takeaway and one blocked shot in 13:25 of ice time while going 4-for-10 on faceoffs. He'll make his second career start on Sunday after getting in his first full practice with the team on Saturday before the Avs traveled to Minnesota.
"I think that'll do him some good. I thought he got better as the game went on yesterday, but he hadn't seen a whole bunch of ice time in the last week," said Bednar. "Stepped out on the ice for about 20 minutes the day he got done [with] his physical and then he went out a little bit [Friday] morning, so to get out with the group a little bit and start feeling more comfortable around them and in a team setting I think is going to be good for him."
Minnesota: Center Mikael Granlund
Granlund enters Sunday's contest one point shy of 200 for his career. He has set single-season career highs in nearly every statistical category and leads the Wild in assists (42), points (67), short-handed goals (3) and multi-point games (16), while ranking second in goals (25). Granlund has registered 15 points (three goals, 12 assists) in 17 career contests against the Avalanche.
Colorado's lineup will remain the same as it was for Friday's win over the Blues. After a 27-save performance on Friday, including five in overtime, Calvin Pickard will once again be tabbed to start in goal. It will be his fourth career start against Minnesota. Pickard is 2-1-0 against the Wild in his young career, with both wins coming this campaign, including a 32-save shutout on Nov. 5.
Sunday's game between the Wild and the Avalanche begins at 4 p.m. MT and can be watched live on Altitude TV. The radio broadcast is on FM 92.5 The Wolf and can also be heard online at ColoradoAvalanche.com.