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Avs Ready to Battle in Series Finale vs. Wild

Teams meet for the eighth and final time

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

After playing seven games against one another through the first three months of the season, developing a little dislike for each other can be expected.

Things boiled over a bit at the conclusion of Monday's contest at Xcel Energy Center after the Colorado Avalanche defeated the Minnesota Wild 5-4. Nothing too crazy happened, but some extracurricular roughing and whatnot occurred as the Avs won their third in a row against the Wild.

The teams meet for the eighth and final time this season tonight in St. Paul, Minnesota, as the Wild will be the first team that Colorado is wrapping up its season series against this year.

"You can expect some bad blood and you can see that last game. It was fun, guys were sticking up for each other," said Colorado forward Tyson Jost. "The intensity is high and it's nice to see some fans back in the building too to bring some energy, but it's a big game for us."

The Avalanche trailed 1-0 after the first period on Monday and only had six shots on goal in the frame--a rarity for the club this year. The team responded in the second stanza with four unanswered goals and outshot the Wild 20-5.

Minnesota tallied three times in the third period, but Colorado got another goal--from Gabriel Landeskog--and held off the home team's rally.

"It's just starting the game better than we did last game. We might have started a little bit slow, and I think they took advantage of that," said defenseman Cale Makar. "For us, it's just sticking with them all night and hopefully our game prevails in the end. It's going to come down to who can be the more consistent team and who can probably check harder."

The Avalanche has scored at least five goals in each of its last three games versus the Wild, outscoring its division foe by a 16-5 margin in that time.

Colorado is 5-1-1 against Minnesota this year, matching its most wins ever against the club. The Avalanche went 5-0-0 in 2000-01 and 5-3-0 in 2005-06.

"We know they're going to come out hard," Jost said. "That's the thing, when you play teams back-to-back like this, we know they're going to want to respond. We know they're going to bring their A-game, and we got to match that."

The Avs have points in 15 straight games (13-0-2) and will look to match the longest point streak in franchise history this evening of 16 outings, set from Dec. 27, 2000-Jan. 30, 2001 (12-0-3-1).

Colorado currently leads the West Division with 56 points (26-8-4) and holds a four-point lead over second-place Vegas (52) and is eight points up on third-place Minnesota (48), which had won a franchise record 11-straight outings at home before falling on Monday to the Avs.

"It's going to be a hard fought hockey game," said head coach Jared Bednar after morning skate. "I think we saw that last game. They came out at a real good pace, tempo, intensity and beat us in the first period. So we have to be ready to go at the start tonight. This will be a hard fought hockey game from start to finish."

LINEUP NOTES

Head coach Jared Bednar said he isn't making any changes to his lineup this evening from the team's previous game.

Goaltender Philipp Grubauer will start for the third straight contest. He has won four straight decisions and is 12-0-1 in his last 13 games, the longest stretch with at least a point in franchise history.

Bowen Byram continues to skate, but Bednar said he didn't have an update on him and the rookie defenseman won't play tonight. This will be the seventh straight contest that Byram has missed since suffering an upper-body injury of March 25 versus the Vegas Golden Knights.

View: Avalanche Projected Lineup vs. Wild

NOTEWORTHY

Colorado has won five straight and is a league-best 17-2-3 (.841) in its last 22 games. The Avs are 3-0-1 in their last four road contests and 6-1-1 in their last eight away from home. 

Nathan MacKinnon is on a six-game point streak (four goals, six assists) and a three-game goal streak. He has 23 points (nine goals, 14 assists) in his last 14 contests, the most of any player during that time span (since March 12)

Gabriel Landeskog has a five-game point streak (four goals, four assists), while Cale Makar is on a three-game point streak (one goal, two assists).

The Avs are looking for their sixth win of the year versus the Wild. They have recorded six wins against an opponent in a single season only three times since moving to Denver: 6-0-0 vs. Calgary in 1999-00, 6-2-0 vs. Edmonton in 2007-08 and 6-1-1 vs. Vancouver in 2007-08.

ONE TIMERS

Tyson Jost on the team battling back in games: "Our team has definitely matured a little bit throughout the year, and that always going to happen and we're going to get better. And that's something we've been working on, getting better each and every day. Not riding the highs too high or the lows too low. We've done a good job of that. We've been resilient. Even with injuries we've been resilient, and it's just the same mentality when they score first. You got to get back in the game. Each and every game we know there are two points up grabs, and they're important. So we want to grab those."

Cale Makar on his alma mater, UMass, in the NCAA Frozen Four: "I've been following it quite a bit. I watched quite a few games throughout the year and then I've tried to watch basically almost every single one of their games through the playoffs. I'm excited to see what they can do in the Frozen Four here. Luckily their first game falls on an off day for us, which is nice. I just saw news that four of their guys went down with COVID protocol stuff. If there is a team that can overcome that, it's definitely UMass. It will definitely be a fun one, but I feel bad and feel gutted for those guys (who can't play), for sure."

Head coach Jared Bednar on prospects playing in the AHL: "It difficult to come in and make our hockey team. There are guys who are doing specific roles for our hockey team, and their 200-foot game is strong. We have a role for every line, we have roles for all of our individuals and they've bought into them, and they're doing a really nice job within their role on our team. I think you want to try and over-season your guys in the American Hockey League and get them the minutes that they need to develop into what we see those guys being long term."

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