Fresh off the NHL Holiday Break, the Colorado Avalanche returns to action to play the Minnesota Wild on Friday at Pepsi Center.
The Avs won their last game, 7-3, on the road against the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare scored two goals while Nathan MacKinnon and J.T. Compher each added two assists to help snap the team's two-game skid. Nazem Kadri, Gabriel Landeskog, Valeri Nichushkin, Matt Nieto and Mikko Rantanen also tallied, and goaltender Pavel Francouz stopped 29-of-32 shots in the dominant win.
Minnesota shut out the Calgary Flames 3-0 in its last contest on Monday, a strong response to a 6-0 loss two nights earlier to the Winnipeg Jets. Goaltender Devan Dubnyk saved all 22 shots he faced in the win while Luke Kunin had a goal and an assist.
Friday's game is the first half of a back-to-back for Colorado, as it plays at the Dallas Stars on Saturday.
Avalanche vs. MINNESOTA WILD
Pepsi Center | Denver, Colo.
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 and Wild split the first two contests of the five-game season series. Colorado won 4-2 in Denver on Oct. 5, as Gabriel Landeskog scored the winning goal late in the second period. Minnesota held on for 3-2 victory at home on Nov. 21.
The Avalanche holds an all-time mark of 49-42-13 in the series against the Wild. Gabriel Landeskog has 26 career points (13 goals, 13 assists) against Minnesota, while Nathan MacKinnon has 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists). Mikko Rantanen has 18 points in his career against the Wild (six goals, 12 assists), the most he's tallied against a single opponent.
Cale Makar is expected to return to the lineup after missing the past eight games with an upper-body injury. He was a full participant in the team's morning skate on Monday before the game in Vegas.
Colin Wilson (lower body) is out indefinitely after having surgery… The Avs have 114 man-games lost this season.
SCOUTING THE WILD
The Wild (18-15-5) is in sixth place in the Central Division, but it owns a 9-4-1 record since Nov. 26. In that span, the team has averaged the NHL's fourth-most goals per game at 3.64, but it has also surrendered an average 3.21 goals, ninth highest.
Eric Staal leads Minnesota with 31 points (14 goals, 17 assists) while Jason Zucker (12 goals, 12 assists) and Ryan Suter (four goals, 20 assists) are tied for second with 24 points each.
(OPPOSING) PLAYER TO WATCH: Ryan Suter
In addition to leading all team defensemen in scoring with 24 points (four goals, 20 assists), Suter has played particularly well against the Avs this year. Of his six multi-point games this season, two have come versus Colorado, registering a marker and three helpers. In fact, Suter has 37 career points (four goals, 33 assists) against the Avalanche, the most he has against any opponent.
Suter is two games removed from a five-game point streak (Dec. 12-19) where he recorded one goal and six assists.
After its latest offensive effort--a seven-goal night in Vegas--the Avalanche has now scored at least six goals in six games in the 2019-20 campaign, tied for the second-most times in the NHL.
Colorado has won 10 games since Nov. 27, tied for the most in the NHL during that span. The Avs have also recorded the most points during that time as well (21 points, 10-3-1).
With a two-assist outing on Monday, Nathan MacKinnon now has 16 multi-point games this year, tied for the third-most of any player this season.
Friday's game will be the third of five meetings this year between the Avalanche and Wild and the last one in Colorado… The Avs are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games against Minnesota… Colorado is beginning the seventh of 12 back-to-backs it will play this season. The Avalanche is 5-1-0 in the first half of such sets… Colorado is one of just three teams with two goalies who have at least 10 wins so far this season… The Avs are 10-3-1 in their last 14 games and 7-3-1 so far in December… The Avalanche (23-11-3) finished with its third-highest points percentage (.662) at the Holiday Break since moving to Denver in 1995. The club's 49 points equaled its second-most at the break.