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Avalanche Hosts Wild in Season Opener

Colorado faces Minnesota for the fourth time on opening night

by Danielle Bernstein /

The 2018-19 season gets underway Thursday night as the Colorado Avalanche welcomes the Central-Division rival Minnesota Wild on opening night at Pepsi Center.

The Avs went 3-0-1 in last season's four-game series, picking wins in each of the two meetings at Pepsi Center. Colorado held a 21-6 combined advantage in goals throughout the four contests and was 6-for-13 (46.2 percent) on the power play against the Wild.

Colorado has a 46-39-13 all-time record against Minnesota, including a 25-20-4 mark on home ice in the series.

Last Time They Met

The Avs topped the Wild 5-1 in the last regular-season meeting between the clubs on March 13 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. J.T. Compher scored two goals to pace Colorado, while Tyson Jost, Nikita Zadorov and Nathan MacKinnon each added tallies. The Avs were outshot 34-22, but they finished 2-for-3 on the power play while holding Minnesota scoreless on four opportunities with the man advantage. Semyon Varlamov made 33 saves in a win that moved the Avalanche into the first wild-card spot at the time.

What To Watch

Season Openers

The Avalanche/Nordiques franchise is 21-10-7 all-time on Opening Night (.645), the second-best record in the NHL (excluding Vegas). Colorado is 14-5-3 in home openers since moving from Quebec, which includes a 12-4-2 mark at Pepsi Center. Only Minnesota (.853; 13-1-3 in 17 games played) has a higher points percentage in home openers among NHL teams (excluding Vegas). The Avalanche is 2-0-0 in season openers under head coach Jared Bednar.

Familiar Foe

The 2018-19 campaign marks the fourth time in the last seven years that the Avalanche faces the Wild in a season opener, as Colorado also started the season against Minnesota in 2012-13, 2014-15 and 2015-16. Colorado's current three-game winning streak against Minnesota is its longest during the regular season since 2006-07.

Players To Watch

Colorado: Goaltender Semyon Varlamov

Varlamov is expected to make his eighth consecutive opening-night start as a member of the Avalanche tonight, passing Patrick Roy (seven) for the most season-opening starts in franchise history. Thursday's game also marks the 400th NHL game for Varlamov, making him the fourth Russian netminder to reach the milestone.

Minnesota: Defenseman Ryan Suter

Suter returns to the ice after suffering a fractured ankle on March 31 that caused him to miss the remainder of the 2017-18 campaign and the entire playoffs. The defenseman set a career high last season with 45 assists, which was also a franchise record for a defenseman in a single season, and ranked second in the NHL in average ice time (26:47).

The Details

Thursday's game is slated to begin at 7 p.m. and fans are encouraged to be in their seats early for the pregame festivities. A limited number of tickets are still available. The game can be watched live on Altitude, and the radio broadcast can be heard on Altitude Sports Radio 92.5 FM in the Denver area. The contest is also an free game for viewers outside of the Avalanche's TV market.

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