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Colorado Prepares For Nashville

Tyson Barrie returns to the lineup, Dominic Toninato set to make NHL debut

by Callie Parmele / ColoradoAvalanche.com

The Colorado Avalanche will look to take the success the team has had at home this season on the road with them against the Nashville Predators tonight.

Colorado is 6-1-1 at home this campaign and 3-6-0 while on the road. The Predators are 5-1-1 in Nashville this season.

"We have to start mirroring our effort at home," Avs head coach Jared Bednar said. "Our commitment to play defense, the way we manage the puck and really, to be honest, the all-out spirit and the speed and the pace we play with has been much better at home and that's the goal tonight.

"A real challenge for us against a real good team, a real good team at home. We haven't had a lot of success against them recently so a good test for us, and I think our guys are up for the challenge here."

The Predators have won the last seven outings between the two clubs, but Bednar said that adversity will motivate the team.

"Nothing to be afraid of. For us, it is something we got to come in, we got to embrace it," Bednar said. "It's a challenge. It's a chance to earn some more respect around the league and continue to grow and mature as a group. If we can do that here tonight, it should give us a little bit more confidence moving forward as well."

Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen says that facing the Predators is not going to be an easy task.

"We have to work hard today. We haven't [beat] them in a long time," said Mikko Rantanen. "We know they are good at home, so we have to be ready to battle and play simple road hockey. We can't turn the puck over in the neutral zone, they will attack for sure after that. So we have to play simple and hard and that will give us the win."

On Thursday, Rantanen set a new career high in points (four) and assists (three) in the teams 6-2 win over the Washington Capitals. He was on a line with Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon, and they combined for 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in the contest.

"Playing with two great teammates, they are making my job easier to play," he said after the team's morning skate. "[They are] a big two players so we just have to keep playing like that and be responsible defensively too. It's not going to be every game like that, and tonight is going to be a hard game. They are a really good team at home, and overall too, so we have to be ready."

BARRIE BACK, TONINATO IN

Defenseman Tyson Barrie missed the Avs' contest on Thursday with an upper-body injury, but he is expected to be back in the lineup tonight. He is currently tied for third on the team with 14 points (two goals, 12 assists).

He will be paired with rear guard Andrei Mironov while Chris Bigras will be the scratched defenseman.

Center Dominic Toninato will make his NHL debut tonight for the Avalanche. He was recalled from the San Antonio Ramapage of the American Hockey League on Friday after felow rookie Vladislav Kamenev broke his arm on Thursday.

He has recorded six points (three goals, three assists) in 13 outings with the Rampage this season.

GIRARD RETURNS TO NASHVILLE

Rookie defenseman Samuel Girard knows the Nashville organization well, as he played his first five NHL games for them earlier this season. However, he is not going to change his game plan going into the contest.

"I am going to be ready for sure," the 19-year-old said before the trip. "I am not going to put any more pressure because that is my old team. I will just play my game and continue like I did the last couple games."

He has recorded two assists in three contests with Colorado and has recorded more than 21 minutes of ice time in each outing. Girard has been paired with a couple of different blueliners but is expected to be paired with Erik Johnson tonight.

"It is fun to play with him," Girard said of Johnson. "He makes some good play he is always at a good spot so it is very easy to play with him."

Video: Samuel Girard adjusting to the Avalanche

PROJECTED LINEUP

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Colin Wilson - Alexander Kerfoot - J.T. Compher
Matt Nieto - Carl Soderberg - Blake Comeau
Sven Andrighetto - Dominic Toninato - Nail Yakupov

Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson
Nikita Zadorov - Mark Barberio
Andrei Mironov - Tyson Barrie 

Semyon Varlamov
Jonathan Bernier

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