CENTENNIAL, Colo.--Ahead of the Colorado Avalanche's final game before the NHL All-Star Break, the team had one last practice at Family Sports Center.
Most of the 30-minute session on Tuesday had to do with special teams. Colorado fell 4-1 to the Nashville Predators on Monday after outshooting the Preds 36-27, including generating seven shots generated on the power play.
"If we can keep playing that same game, play it 10 times we might win a few more," Nathan MacKinnon said after practice. "We played good, we just couldn't bury our chances. [Pekka] Rinne was awesome last night, he is such a good goalie. He won the Vezina for a reason last year. Especially early that first power play, we had so many looks and a lot of good chances that just didn't go in, I think if we score first it's a different game."
The Avs will have another Central Division matchup on Wednesday, this time against the Minnesota Wild. It is the third outing of a four-game series between the foes this season.
Colorado is 1-1-0 against Minnesota this year, winning the first outing 4-1 on opening night (Oct. 4) at Pepsi Center but falling 3-2 on Oct. 27 at Xcel Energy Center. The Avs have won the last three home games against the Wild, outscoring the Wild 18-4 during the stretch.
"Talking with some guys this morning, we are hungry after [the game against Nashville], feel like we maybe deserved a little bit better," said head coach Jared Bednar. "A game we didn't get results in, and I think you can start seeing the passion come out in our team here recently and that is what we want. Hopefully we come really invested emotionally tomorrow because I think that is what makes us good.
"It is going to be a tough game. They are going to want the two points as much as us, but hopefully we come out and play real well and get rewarded for our effort."
Minnesota is currently in third place in the Central Division with 53 points and a 25-21-3 mark, while Colorado is tied with the Dallas Stars for fourth with 52 points.
"We need the points," MacKinnon said of the significance of the matchup. "I think Minny is ahead of us now, so we need to beat them and get back ahead of them during the break."
After the game against the Wild, Colorado will have eight days off for the NHL All-Star Break and the team's bye week. The Avs return to practice on Feb. 1 and will host the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 2 and the Columbus Blue Jackets on Feb. 5 to conclude a five-game homestand.
The Avalanche did make a roster switch on Tuesday afternoon, recalling defenseman Ryan Graves from the Colorado Eagles of the American Hockey League while reassigning fellow rear guard Anton Lindholm.
Avalanche Head Coach Jared Bednar on the Gabriel Landeskog-Nathan MacKinnon-Mikko Rantanen line: "I think that there are common interests there. No. 1, they want to have success with our team. No. 2, they know that their, especially since we got them together and have left them together more permanently, their success and our team success is are all tied to one another in that sense. I think those guys have a hunger to excel at what they do and help get our team to where we want it to go."
Video: Avs coach Jared Bednar after practice
Avalanche Center Nathan MacKinnon on going to the All-Star Game with Landeskog and Rantanen: "We are very fortunate that we get to spend this together, I don't think it is ever going to happen again in our careers, the three of us going to the All-Star Game. We are all good friends, so we will hopefully have some good memories and get some pictures together and really enjoy it."
Video: Nathan MacKinnon after practice
Avalanche Right Wing Mikko Rantanen on his first All-Star Game: "Just going to enjoy it. I don't want to think about it too much, don't want to be too nervous. It makes it easier when you have two linemates coming too so it makes it easier. Obviously it is the first time for me, so I am going to enjoy it and it's great to meet those guys, those superstars. It's going to be fun."
Video: Mikko Rantanen after the Avs' practice