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Avalanche Travels to Minny to Complete Back-to-Back

Colorado faces division foe for second time this season

by Danielle Bernstein / ColoradoAvalanche.com

The Colorado Avalanche plays its final game in the month of October on Saturday night, facing the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. It's technically the beginning of a three-game road trip for Colorado, although the team will return to Denver before playing at Calgary and Vancouver to open its November slate.

This is the second of four meetings between the Central-Division rivals this season and the 100th all-time game between the clubs in the regular season. After tonight's contest, the Avs and Wild won't play each other again until Jan. 23 in the Mile High City.

Last Time Out

Colorado overcame a two-goal deficit to beat the Ottawa Senators 6-3 at Pepsi Center on Friday night. Mikko Rantanen led the way with four points (one goal, three assists), and Gabriel Landeskog (one goal, two assists) and Nathan MacKinnon (one goal, two assists) each added three points to pace the Avs. Colorado scored six goals for the second time this season and found the back of the net twice on three power-play opportunities.

The Wild is coming off a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night. Eric Fehr (one goal, one assist) and Ryan Suter (two assists) each notched two points to lead Minnesota, which held a 2-0 lead after 40 minutes of play. The Wild was 0-for-4 on the power play but also held the Kings scoreless on four opportunities with the man advantage. Minnesota scored two empty-net goals in the last minute of the contest.

Last Time They Met

Minnesota's Zach Parise scored the first goal of the new campaign early in the first period, but Colorado answered back with four-straight markers to win 4-1 on Oct. 4 in both clubs' season openers. Carl Soderberg, Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and J.T. Compher all tallied for the Avalanche, while goaltender Semyon Varlamov--making his eighth-straight opening-night start--stopped 20 shots.

What To Watch

Avs Top Line

Colorado's top line of Gabriel Landeskog (nine goals, six assists), Nathan MacKinnon (nine goals, nine assists) and Mikko Rantanen (five goals, 15 assists) have produced 53 points (23 goals, 30 assists) this season, the most of any three-player tandem in the league. Rantanen leads the league with 20 points and 15 assists, and MacKinnon ranks second in the league in scoring with 18 points. Landeskog has a league-high four game-winning tallies in 2018-19 after potting the game-winner on Friday night versus Ottawa.

Back-to-Back

Saturday's contest will be Colorado's second of a back-to-back set, the first of 11 such instances for the team this season. The Avalanche also played 11 back-to-back games last season, finishing 5-3-3 in the first game and 3-8-0 in the second.

Penalty Kill

The Avalanche held Ottawa scoreless on two power-play opportunities on Friday night to improve to 42-for-47 in 2018-19. On the road, Colorado's PK unit is 28-for-32 (87.5 percent) and ranks fourth in the league.

Players To Watch

Colorado: Center Carl Soderberg

Soderberg scored on Friday night against Ottawa and now has four tallies this season, the most he's had in the month of October in his career. He notched two points (goal and assist) in the first game against Minnesota on Oct. 4 and has tallied 12 points (six goals and six assists) in 19 career outings against the Wild, his most against a single opponent in his career.

Minnesota: Right Wing Mikael Granlund

Granlund extended his point streak to six games with a short-handed, empty-net goal on Thursday against the Kings. He has tallied seven points (four goals, three assists) during the streak, the longest such stretch by a Wild player this season and tied for second in the NHL among active point streaks.

Lineup Notes

Goaltender Semyon Varlamov will get the start in net for the Avalanche. He has a 4-1-2 record, 1.56 goals-against average and .953 save percentage in seven contests this season. Varlamov made 20-of-21 saves when Colorado played Minnesota for opening night on Oct. 4.

View: Avalanche Projected Lineup

The Details

Saturday's contest between the Avs and Wild begins at 6 p.m. MT. The game will be televised on Altitude with the pregame show beginning at 5:30 p.m. It will also be streamed on the AltitudeNOW app and NHL.tv. The radio broadcast can be heard on Altitude Sports Radio 92.5 FM in the Denver area or online at ColoradoAvalanche.com.

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