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Avs Continue Road Trip At Rival Wild

Colorado and Minnesota meet for the second time this year

by Danielle Bernstein @danibernstein / ColoradoAvalanche.com

Coming off a 3-2 loss to the Dallas Stars on Thursday night, the Avalanche faces the Minnesota Wild in the second of a three-game road trip.

It's the second of five meetings between the Central Division rivals this season and the first of three that will be played in Minnesota. Colorado is 42-36-12 all-time against the Wild and 19-17-8 on the road in the series. Jarome Iginla has the most career points (71) and goals (39) of any player against the Wild franchise

Last Time Out

Nathan MacKinnon and Mikhail Grigorenko each scored, but the Avs weren't able to recover after allowing three goals in the opening period. The Avalanche outshot Dallas 36-22, including 16-10 and 14-6 margins in the second and third periods, respectively.

"I loved our effort for the final 40 minutes, but unfortunately 40 minutes doesn't get the job done on many occasions, especially when you're that poor in the first," said head coach Jared Bednar following Thursday's game. "I loved what we did in the last 40 minutes, but that has to be lesson learned for us."

The Wild topped the Bruins 1-0 on Thursday night, getting a 25-save performance from goaltender Devan Dubnyk for his NHL-leading fourth shutout of the season. Mikhail Granlund scored with just 45 seconds remaining in regulation to lift the Wild to victory.

Video: Altitude TV previews Colorado at Minnesota

When They Last Met

The Avs and the Wild clashed at Pepsi Center on Nov. 5 with the Avs earning a 1-0 win. Gabriel Landeskog scored the game-winning goal midway through the third period. Mikko Rantanen recorded his first NHL point with the secondary assist on Landeskog's goal, and Calvin Pickard picked up his second career shutout.

How They Stack Up

Colorado faces the league's stingiest defense in the Wild, which is allowing just 1.81 goals per game. The Avs have been strong on the faceoff circle, winning 52.0 percent of their faceoffs--good for fifth in the league--including a league-best 55.7 percent in the offensive zone.

The Avs rank in the top five in the NHL in time spent on the penalty kill, something they'll look to minimize against Minnesota after allowing two man-advantage goals on seven power-play opportunities against Dallas on Thursday.

"We took seven and one guy had three. If you're taking three penalties, you're not doing something right. If you're taking seven as a team, you're not doing something right," Bednar said. "Some of them are needless and some of them were because we weren't working hard enough."

Player to Watch

Colorado: Center Nathan MacKinnon

MacKinnon scored his first career short-handed goal against Dallas on Tuesday. He recorded six shots on goal after putting up a career-high 10 shots in Colorado's win over the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. He's recorded eight points (three goals, five assists) in 14 career games against the Wild. In addition to posting 10 points so far this season, which ranks second on the team, MacKinnon has also won 53 percent of the 287 faceoffs he's taken and 63.6 percent in the offensive zone.

Minnesota: Left Wing Zach Parise

After missing six games--including the first matchup against the Avalanche--with a lower-body injury, Parise returned to the Minnesota lineup on Tuesday. He has recorded six points (two goals, four assists) in 10 games this season and has totaled 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists) in 26 career games against the Avs.

The Details

The pucks drops at 6 p.m. MT on Saturday. The game can be watched live on Altitude, and fans can listen live on Altitude Sports Radio, AM 950 in Denver or at ColoradoAvalanche.com.

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