The Colorado Avalanche returns to Pepsi Center after a three-game road trip, hosting the Pacific Division-leading Edmonton Oilers on Thanksgiving Eve.
Now on a two-game winning streak, its first such stretch since winning the first two contests of the season, Colorado looks to continue the momentum against a strong Oilers team and gain ground in the standings.
"It's time to start passing teams. It took us a while to get back to .500 again, and it's important to get on a roll here," said defenseman Erik Johnson. "We have to string some wins together. I think that's our first win streak in a handful of games. It's good to do that, but we have to keep it going and try to win more games and more games… and get back into the thick of things in the playoffs."
Colorado is 62-39-10 all-time against Edmonton (since 1995-96) and has won the last three games in the series.
Video: Preview of Colorado vs. Edmonton
Last Time Out
The Avs went 2-1-0 on their three-game road swing, overcoming deficits to take wins over the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets. In Monday's triumph, Tyson Barrie and Erik Johnson each notched goals in regulation, and Matt Duchene, back in the lineup after missing four games with concussion-like symptoms, potted the game winner in overtime to lift the Avalanche to victory. Semyon Varlamov finished with 40 saves, and Colorado held the league's best power play scoreless on one opportunity with the man advantage.
Edmonton is coming off a dominating 5-0 win over the Central Division-leading Chicago Blackhawks on Monday night and has now won two straight after dropping five consecutive decisions prior. Cam Talbot pitched a 31-save shutout, and Leon Draisaitl tallied two goals and an assist while winning 13 faceoffs to help propel the Oilers to a win.
How They Stack Up
With five points (two goals, three assists) in his last three games, Nathan MacKinnon has taken the Colorado offense on his shoulders as of late and now leads the team with 13 points. Matt Duchene scored his third game winner of the season and is tied for second in the league in game-winning goals.
Faceoffs have been a strength for the Avs. At 51.6 percent, the Avalanche ranks fifth overall in faceoff win percentage. They're particularly strong in the offensive zone, with a league-leading 55.5 percent rate of success.
The Colorado defense will have its hands full on Wednesday, as Edmonton brings the NHL's points and assists leader in Connor McDavid to town. McDavid has posted 16 assists and 24 points in 20 games this season.
"I think every time he's on the ice, he's a dangerous player," head coach Jared Bednar said of the Oilers captain. "You have to make sure that not only are you ready to skate and check, but there's a next level of awareness that you have to have when he's out there for sure. And you have to manage the puck. You can't turn the puck over against a line like McDavid's because they're going to come back and hurt you every time you make a mistake."
Video: Coach Bednar's post-practice press conference
Player to Watch
Colorado: Defenseman Tyson Barrie
Barrie's 13 points against Edmonton over the last four seasons is tops amongst all Avalanche skaters. The defenseman also scored his first goal since opening night in Colorado's 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night.
"Those are two guys who can help us coming out of our zone, on the rush and also in the offensive zone," Bednar said of Barrie and defenseman Erik Johnson, who also tallied a goal-his first of the season-on Monday. "So we need them to be a part of it. It's a five-man attack. It can't just be your forwards doing the work offensively, and then they step up and get big goals for us in a game like last night. We want to see that more consistently."
Edmonton: Right Wing Jordan Eberle
Eberle has accumulated eight points (two goals, six assists) in the month of November. The Regina, Saskatchewan, native has been the Oilers' leading scorer against the Avalanche over the last five seasons, posting eight goals and eight assists in 20 games.
The Avs will still be without the services of captain Gabriel Landeskog, who remains out of the lineup with a lower-body injury. Bednar noted he would likely skate for the first time since sustaining the injury prior to Colorado's morning skate on Wednesday.
Semyon Varlamov will get the start in goal. Varlamov has posted a 7-9-0 career mark against Edmonton with six of his seven wins coming on home ice. As a member of the Avs, Varly is 6-4-0 against Edmonton with a 2.19 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage.
Video: Semyon Varlamov talks goalie stuff
The puck drops at 8 p.m. MT at Pepsi Center, and tickets are still available. The game can also be watched on Altitude 2 and heard on 92.5 FM The Wolf as well as at ColoradoAvalanche.com.
Wednesday is also the Avalanche's annual Do All You Can Food Drive, and canned food and monetary donations will be collected at the entrances of the arena beginning at 6:30 p.m. All donations will go to the Denver Rescue Mission, which provides 650,000 meals to those in need each year. Ball Corporation will be matching the first $10,000 in donations as well.