The Colorado Avalanche hosts its first Division Rivalry game of the season on Saturday at home against the Minnesota Wild.
The Avs opened the 2019-20 campaign with a 5-3 victory against the Calgary Flames at Pepsi Center on Thursday. Forwards Mikko Rantanen and Joonas Donskoi each scored twice while goaltender Philipp Grubauer made 27 saves. J.T. Compher also tallied for Colorado.
Minnesota fell 5-2 at the Nashville Predators on Thursday after the Preds scored four times in the third period. Jason Zucker and Matt Dumba scored for the Wild, and Devan Dubnyk stopped 27 of the 31 shots he faced.
It is the first of five matchups between Colorado and Minnesota and the first of two at Pepsi Center. Minnesota and the St. Louis Blues are the only Central Division rivals to face the Avalanche five times this year instead of four.
Avalanche vs. MINNESOTA WILD
Pepsi Center | Denver, Colo.
Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson is from Bloomington, Minnesota and played one season at the University of Minnesota in 2006-07… Nathan MacKinnon played at Shattuck St. Mary's School in Faribault, Minnesota… Wild assistant coach Darby Hendrickson played for the Avalanche (2003-04)… Minnesota's Jason Zucker played college hockey at the University of Denver (2010-2012).
During the 2018-19 season, both teams went 2-2-0 as each won a game at home and one on the road… Colorado owns a 48-41-13 all-time record against Minnesota… The Avs and Wild met twice in the 2019 preseason with Colorado finishing 1-1-0… The rivals will face each other four more times this season, with the Nov. 21, Feb. 9 and March 23 meetings taking place in Minnesota and the Avs hosting the Dec. 27 outing at Pepsi Center.
The matchup against the Wild is the first of 13 "Division Rivalry Game" that the Avalanche will host this season, all featuring Colorado in its navy third jerseys. The Avs finished 8-2-2 in their last 12 games overall against Central Division opponents last season, 3-1 at home and 5-1-2 on the road.
After practice on Friday, head coach Jared Bednar said he was not sure if he is going to make any changes to the lineup he utilized in Thursday's season opener… Joonas Donskoi had a maintenance day and did not practice… Forwards Vladislav Kamenev and Colin Wilson and defenseman Mark Barberio were the scratches against Calgary.
Ian Cole is the only player that is currently out with an injury, although he has been practicing with the team in a non-contact jersey recently as he continues to recover from offseason surgery on both of his hips.
SCOUTING THE WILD
Minnesota finished last season with 83 points (37-36-9), seventh in the Central Division. It was the first time that the Wild missed the postseason since 2011-12.
Eric Staal led the Wild with five points (three goals, two assists) in the four contests versus the Avs in 2018-19. Minnesota's captain Mikko Koivu leads the team with 47 points (18 goals, 29 assists) in 70 career games against Colorado, while Zach Parise has registered 36 points (16 goals, 20 assists) in 36 outings.
Against the Avalanche, the Wild is 14-8-1 in the last 23 matches.
(OPPOSING) PLAYER TO WATCH: Devan Dubnyk
The goaltender is expected to play his 300th career game with the Wild, becoming the second netminder in team history reach the 300-game mark. The milestone will also make him the 15th active NHL goaltender to play in 300-plus games with a single franchise.
The 32-year-old led the league in games played (67) last season, which tied his career high. He also ranked first in the NHL with 19 road wins.
Matt Calvert is expected to appear in his 500th career NHL game. Through 499 contests, the forward has recorded 176 points (83 goals, 93 assists).
Mikko Rantanen has 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in 14 games versus the Wild.
Joonas Donskoi and Mikko Rantanen each scored twice in the season opener on Thursday, marking the second instance in franchise history where two players each recorded a multi-goal game in a season opener. Quebec's Michel Goulet and Jacques Richard both scored twice in a 5-5 tie with Calgary on Oct. 9, 1980.
The game is the second of a season-opening, four-game homestand… The Avalanche will have four days before its next game on Thursday when it hosts the Boston Bruins… The Avs are opening their season at home for the 11th time in the last 14 years and the 13th time in the last 17.