The Colorado Avalanche plays its first game of the new year on Monday night at the Vancouver Canucks in the second of three contests between the former Northwest Division rivals this season and the only one that will be contested in Vancouver.
The Canucks enter Monday's match sitting in sixth place in the Pacific Division, trailing fifth-place Los Angeles by three points and 10 points behind division-leading San Jose. Colorado begins the 2017 calendar year in seventh place in the Central Division with 12 points separating them from sixth-place Winnipeg.
Colorado is 0-0-1 against the Canucks this season and 56-39-16 all-time. The Avalanche is 28-21-7 on the road in the overall series and has won three of its last four matchups in Vancouver.
Last Time Out
The Avs lost in regulation at home for the eighth straight time, falling to the New York Rangers 6-2 on Saturday night. Colorado got on the board first and was locked in a 2-2 tie after the first 20 minutes of play, but the Rangers punched in two goals in each of the second and third frames to take the win. Cody McLeod notched his first marker of the season, and Blake Comeau scored his 13th career tally and 22nd career point against the Rangers, his highest totals against any opponent.
The Canucks beat the Edmonton Oilers on the road 3-2 in a shootout on Saturday night for their third straight win. Vancouver was outshot 44-32, but got goals from Alexandre Burrows and Sven Baertschi gave the team a 2-1 lead until Connor McDavid tied the game up with just over 1:30 left in regulation. Bo Horvat registered two assists and potted what was ultimately the game winner in the skills competition and Jacob Markstrom made a season-high 42 saves.
Last Time They Met
The Avalanche and the Canucks clashed in Denver on Nov. 26 with Vancouver taking a 3-2 shootout win. Mikhail Grigorenko and Jarome Iginla tallied goals for the Avalanche, which outshot Vancouver 35-31, including a 13-8 margin in the third period. In Colorado's only shootout game of the season, Markus Granlund buried what stood as the game winner.
What to Watch
The Faster Start
Both the Avs and the Canucks have had slow-start tendencies this season, ranking 29th and 30th, respectively, in goals scored in the first period.
Colorado's highest-scoring period is the second, where it has notched 28 goals, while Vancouver has had the most offensive success in the third period, totaling 37 markers.
Neither team has been particularly dominant when scoring the game's first goal, as Vancouver is 7-4-1 when finding the back of the net first and the Avalanche is 6-5-0.
A Potential Nailbiter
A shootout was needed to determine a winner the last time Vancouver and Colorado met this season. The Avalanche is one of just two teams in the league (New York Rangers) that has not lost a game in overtime this season. The Avs are 4-0-1 in games that have gone beyond regulation.
The Canucks lead the league in overtime wins, coming out victorious in nine of the 12 games that have gone to OT, seven of which have come on home ice. They have lost just twice in the extra frame and have one shootout loss on their record this season.
Vancouver has four players-forwards Jannik Hansen and Derek Dorsett and defensemen Erik Gudbranson and Philip Larsen-on injured reserve, all with long-term injuries.
Player to Watch
Colorado: Defenseman Tyson Barrie
Barrie appeared in his 300th NHL game on Saturday and recorded an helper to extend his current assist streak to a career-high four games. With two goals and 17 assists this season, Barrie ranks tops among Avalanche defensemen in goals, assists and points. His current four-game point streak is just one short of his career high set Jan. 25-Feb. 3, 2014.
Vancouver: Center Brandon Sutter
In addition to his 18 points (nine goals, nine assists) this season, Sutter leads the Canucks, who rank sixth in the league in overall faceoff win percentage, with 379 faceoff wins. His 55.1 winning percentage is also tops on the team.
Goaltender Semyon Varlamov will not be on the road trip as he continues to recover from a minor groin injury. Calvin Pickard is slated to make his fifth straight start and the second of his career against the Canucks, as he was also in net for this season's first contest against the club.
Monday's game at Vancouver starts at 8 p.m. MT and can be seen live on Altitude 2. Fans can listen in on Altitude Sports Radio AM950 or online at ColoradoAvalanche.com.