After four-straight games in Canada, the Colorado Avalanche (13-6-2) returns to the United States on Thursday, traveling to Minnesota to complete its five-game road trip against the Wild. This will be the Avs' second meeting with its division foe after winning the first game 4-2 in Denver on Oct. 5.
Back in net for the first time since Nov. 5, Philipp Grubauer saved 31 of 33 shots to help lead the Avalanche to a 3-2 win over the Calgary Flames on Tuesday. Andre Burakovsky spotted Colorado a 2-0 lead after the first period, his third multi-goal game of the season and sixth performance with more than one point.
Vladislav Kamenev also recorded his first goal of the season, while Nathan MacKinnon added two assists and Cale Makar notched one on the night to conclude the Canadian portion of the 11-day trip.
Minnesota defeated the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 on Thursday and is 3-1-1 in its last five outings. The Wild (8-11-2) is in seventh place in the Central Division with 18 points.
It is the second of five meetings between the Avalanche and Wild this season and the first of three in St. Paul, the only road city that Colorado plays three games in this year.
Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild
Xcel Energy Center | Saint Paul, Minn.
Erik Johnson is from Bloomington, Minnesota, and played one season at the University of Minnesota (2006-07)... Wild assistant coach Darby Hendrickson played for Colorado in 2003-04... Jason Zucker spent two seasons at the University of Denver (2010-12).
The Avalanche leads the all-time series with the Wild 49-41-13. The clubs met last on Oct. 5, a 4-2 Avs win at Pepsi Center. Gabriel Landeskog responded to Minnesota's comeback from 2-0, scoring with just over a minute left in the second period to break a tie. Ryan Graves recorded an empty-net tally with 40 seconds remaining to seal the victory, the Avs' sixth in their last 10 matchups with the Wild.
Mikko Rantanen recorded a goal and an assist that night, giving him 18 career points against Minnesota (six goals, 12 assists), the most he's tallied against any opponent. Nathan MacKinnon has 23 career points versus the Wild (nine goals, 14 assists) while Landeskog has 26 (13 goals, 13 assists). Milan Hejduk's 50 career points (22 goals, 28 assists) against the Wild are the fourth-most all-time for any player.
Goaltender Philipp Grubauer returned to action on Tuesday and saved 33 of 35 shots in the Avs 3-2 win over the Flames. Pavel Francouz also served as the backup after missing two games while in concussion protocol… The Avs recalled forward A.J. Greer and reassigned goalies Antoine Bibeau and Adam Werner to the Eagles on Tuesday… Defenseman Mark Barberio and A.J. Greer were the scratched players at Calgary… Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who missed morning skate due to illness, played on Tuesday.
Tyson Jost has missed the last two games with an upper-body injury… Matt Calvert returned to Denver earlier this week and missed his first game of the season on Tuesday with a head injury… Gabriel Landeskog (out indefinitely), Mikko Rantanen (week-to-week) and Colin Wilson (day-to-day) all remain in Colorado as they each recover from lower-body injuries.
SCOUTING THE WILD
The Wild is in seventh place in the Central Division and 4-2-1 since Nov. 5. Minnesota is 8-11-2 through 21 outings this season.
Offensively, Minnesota's averaging the fewest shots per game in the NHL (28.8) and has recorded 2.71 goals for on average, ranked 24th in the league. Though the Wild has scored just 14 goals in the first period (tied for the 25th best), it's produced more in the second and third frames, with 22 and 21 goals, respectively.
(OPPOSING PLAYER TO WATCH): Zach Parise
Zach Parise extended his point streak to three games on Tuesday, scoring twice in the Wild's 4-1 win over Buffalo. He has 11 points this season (eight goals, three assists)--eight of which have come in the last eight games--third-most on his team behind Eric Staal (15) and Jason Zucker (14). Parise has also found success against Colorado.
Parise has 37 career points (17 goals, 20 assists) against the Avalanche, including 32 as a member of the Wild. He netted the tying goal in the teams' last meeting on Oct. 5, before Gabriel Landeskog scored the game-winner in the final minutes of the second period.
The Avs' 5-4 OT win against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday marked the seventh time Colorado has scored at least five goals this season, tying the team for the third-most five-goal games in the NHL.
Cale Makar leads all rookies in the number of games with at least one point this season, with 16.
Nathan MacKinnon has notched at least one point in 17 games this year and is averaging 1.48 points per game, which ranks sixth in the league.
The Avs are 3-1-0 so far on this road trip, beating Winnipeg 4-0, falling to Edmonton 6-2, edging Vancouver 5-4 in overtime and beating Calgary 3-2… This will be the second of five meetings with the Wild this year and the first of three in Minnesota… Cale Makar's 13 points this month (four goals, nine assists) are tied for the most by a rookie defenseman in November since 1991, when Nicklas Lidstrom had 17 and Vladimir Konstantinov had 13 with the Detroit Red Wings... Nathan MacKinnon has 104 shots this season, the second-most in the NHL behind only Alex Ovechkin (112) who's played three more games… Colorado has gotten a multi-goal effort from one of its players in six consecutive games, a first since the Avalanche moved to Denver.