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Avs And Wild Clash In Key Division Battle

It is the third of four meetings between the clubs this campaign

by Danielle Bernstein / ColoradoAvalanche.com

The Colorado Avalanche hosts another key conference battle on Friday night, this time against division rival the Minnesota Wild. It's the third of four meetings this season between the clubs, who will square off one final time on March 13 at Xcel Energy Center.

The teams have split the 2017-18 series so far with each team winning at home, Minnesota in a shootout 3-2 on Nov. 24 and the Avalanche 7-2 on Jan. 6.

The Avs are 44-39-13 all-time against the Wild, including a 24-20-4 mark at home.

Last Time Out

The Avalanche rallied from a 2-0 deficit on Wednesday night, scoring five unanswered goals to beat the Calgary Flames 5-2 at Pepsi Center. Nathan MacKinnon registered a goal and an assist, and Tyson Barrie put up the same stat line, including his third game-winning goal of the season. Blake Comeau and Carl Soderberg each recorded two-assist nights, and the Avs penalty kill held the Flames scoreless on five opportunities with the man advantage.

The Wild held a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes of play but fell 5-3 to the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night at Gila River Arena, ending its five-game win streak. A tie game after two periods and near the midway point of the third, the Coyotes scored three times in the frame to seal the win. Minnesota held a 35-25 advantage in shots and got goals from Mikko Koivu, Matt Cullen and Zach Parise.

Last Time They Met

The Avalanche were dominant in a 7-2 win over the Wild at Pepsi Center on Jan. 6. Seven different Colorado players registered multi-point games, led by three-point nights from Nathan MacKinnon (one goal, two assists) and Mikko Rantanen (one goal, two assists). The Avs were 3-for-4 on the power play with two of those man-advantage goals, one of which stood as the game winner, coming off the stick of Carl Soderberg. Eric Staal accounted for both Minnesota tallies.

What to Watch

Home Sweet Home

Colorado is 2-0-0 through the first half of its four-game homestand and has won 12 of its last 13 contests at Pepsi Center. The Avs are 22-8-1 on home ice this season and averaging 3.55 goals-per-game at home, which ranks fifth in the league. They've outscored teams 110-74 inside the friendly confines, a goal differential of 36 that ranks fourth in the league.

Rookie Production

Colorado's top line has seen a resurgence since the return of Nathan MacKinnon, but the Avs' rookies have continued to make an impact. The Avalanche's rookie class has combined for 98 points (37 goals, 61 assists), fourth-most in the NHL. Defenseman Samuel Girard is tied for fifth among first-year blueliners with 16 points and ranks third in power-play points (eight).

Back-to-Backs

The Wild is the third-straight team that Colorado has faced in the second game of a back-to-back set. Both Vancouver and Calgary entered their games against Colorado after playing the night prior. The Wild is playing its 11th of 15 back-to-back stretches this season and has a 4-5-1 record in the second contest.

Player to Watch

Colorado: Defenseman Tyson Barrie

Barrie notched his third game-winning goal of the season on Wednesday night and now has 16 career game winners, the most by a defenseman in franchise history. He's tallied eight points (two goals, six assists) over his last five outings and his .80 points-per-game is tied for fourth among NHL blueliners.

Minnesota: Center Eric Staal
While he was held without a point in Thursday's loss to the Coyotes, Staal helped the Wild go 9-2-2 in the month of February and paced the league in scoring with 21 points (13 goals, eight assists) in 13 games to earn the NHL's First Star of the Month. He has three points (two goals, one assist) in two games against Colorado this season.

The Details

Friday night's game between the Avalanche and the Wild begins at 7 p.m. MT, and tickets are still available. The contest can be watched live on Altitude TV, and the radio broadcast can be heard on 92.5 The Wolf.

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