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Avalanche Homestand Continues Against Bruins

Colorado hosts Boston on Sunday night

by Danielle Bernstein @danibernstein / ColoradoAvalanche.com

The Colorado Avalanche hosts the Boston Bruins on Sunday evening in the third game of a four-game homestand. The Bruins are Colorado's first Eastern Conference opponent since an early-season road swing that saw the Avs visit four Eastern Conference teams in a six-day span, culminating in a contest against the Florida Panthers on Oct. 22. The Avalanche is 18-9-1 all-time against the Bruins, and 8-7-0 at home in the series.

The Bruins are on the second half of a back-to-back after beating the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night in the desert. Boston is 0-2-0 in the second game of back-to-back sets this season.

Last Time Out

The Avs defeated the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 in overtime on Friday night, improving to 5-1-0 in one-goal games and 2-0 in overtime games this season. Rene Bourque scored twice, including the overtime winner, and Mikko Rantanen picked up his first NHL goal, a wrist shot on the power play at 1:03 of the second period. Semyon Varlamov finished with 16 saves on 18 shots, including a huge save on a Blake Wheeler breakaway in overtime.

The Bruins took on the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday, winning 2-1 for their sixth win in their last eight games. Boston was backed by a 30-save performance from Tuukka Rask, who came within 7:55 of his third shutout in 10 starts before surrendering a late goal. Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak were the goal scorers for the Bruins.

Stacking Up: Offense and Defense

The Avs' three goals scored on Friday night marked the team's highest single-game scoring total in the month of November. With two tallies, Rene Bourque now has four goals on the season, which ranks second on the team to Matt Duchene's six markers. Erik Johnson and Nathan MacKinnon each recorded their sixth assists of the season and are now tied for the team lead in helpers. Colorado is averaging 3.00 goals against per game, which is tied for 22nd in the NHL. Johnson's 2.7 blocked shots per game are tied for seventh in the league.

David Pastrnak's 10 goals lead Boston and are tied with Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and Winnipeg's Mark Scheifele for second in the NHL. Brad Marchand has a team-high 10 assists and 15 points for the league's 20th-ranked offense. Defensively, the B's have allowed an average of 2.53 goals per game. Tuukka Rask's 1.76 goals-against average and .938 save percentage ranks fourth and sixth, respectively, among the league's goaltenders that have played a minimum of four games.

Stacking Up: Special Teams

Colorado's power play has been strong at home, where it ranks 10th in the league at 23.8 percent. The Avs have tallied a power-play goal in three of their last four games. Bourque, Gabriel Landeskog and Joe Colborne have each scored two goals with the man advantage.

Andreas Martinsen has provided a solid presence on Colorado's penalty kill and has gradually seen his ice time increase as part of the Avs' PK unit.

"Marty is a guy that has consistently done it right, done it with pace, good execution," said Colorado head coach Jared Bednar. "He's paying attention to the details."

Boston's power play clocks in at 14.0 percent, which ranks 23rd in the league. Pastrnak and Ryan Spooner have accounted for five of Boston's seven power-play tallies, and three of Pastrnak's nine markers on the season have come on the man advantage. The Bruins' penalty kill ranks 13th at 83.9 percent. With 95 total minutes spent on the kill, the Bruins rank fourth in the league in most PK time.

Video: Keefe and Rycroft preview Sunday's game

Player to Watch

Colorado: Defenseman Tyson Barrie

Tied with Erik Johnson for the team lead in points amongst defensemen, Barrie has tallied a goal and five assists through 13 games this season, including the assist on Rene Bourque's first goal in the win over Winnipeg Friday night. Barrie's cross-ice pass found the tape on Bourque's stick for the tap in.

Boston: Right Wing David Backes

After 10 seasons with the St. Louis Blues, David Backes makes his first appearance as a Bruin at Pepsi Center. Backes has tallied three goals and three assists in 10 games, and his 3.6 hits per game rank in the top 10 in the league.

Lineup Notes

Varlamov will make his second straight start in goal and his 10th start of the season. Varlamov is 2-3-1 in seven career games against Boston.

Blake Comeau, who has been sidelined with a groin injury, participated in Colorado's practice on Saturday but is not expected to play in Sunday's game.

"This groin thing has been going back and forth for him, so I think the plan for him is to have three or four days of good skating when he feels real strong and explosive and then get him in the game so something's not acting up on him again," Bednar said. "We want him at 100 percent when he comes back."

Colorado's lines will see a bit of shuffling, as Matt Duchene will be out with a head injury. AJ Greer, who was recalled from San Antonio on Saturday, will likely make his NHL debut.

The Details

Sunday's puck drop is slated for 5 p.m. at Pepsi Center, and tickets are still available. The game can be watched live on Altitude and listened to on Altitude Radio AM 950 and at ColoradoAvalanche.com. 

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