Three days after their first matchup, the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings meet again, this time in the Motor City, for the final tilt of a two-game season series between the former Western Conference rivals.
Saturday's contest will be the final time Colorado will play at Joe Louis Arena. The Avs are 29-40-6 in 75 all-time games against the Red Wings and 15-21-1 on the road in the series. The Avalanche has won three straight meetings at The Joe.
Last Time Out
Wednesday's 3-1 win over the Red Wings was the last game for the Avalanche, which took Thursday off and practiced Friday morning before catching a flight to Detroit.
The Red Wings headed to the desert after Wednesday's game to play the second half of their back-to-back set against the Arizona Coyotes. Detroit earned a 5-4 shootout win and got two-point nights from Tomas Tatar, Mike Green, Henrik Zetterberg and Andreas Athanasiou. The Wings finished 2-for-7 on the power play while holding the Coyotes scoreless on three man-advantage opportunities.
Last Time They Met
Matt Duchene scored his team-leading 17th goal of the season and J.T. Compher potted his first NHL marker to lead the Avalanche to a 3-1 win over the Red Wings on Wednesday night at Pepsi Center. Carl Soderberg also scored for the Avalanche, and Athanasiou tallied the lone goal for Detroit. Calvin Pickard finished with 27 saves.
Video: Keefe and Rycroft preview Saturday's game
What to Watch
Last Game at The Joe
Saturday's tilt is the last time the Avalanche will play at the storied Joe Louis Arena, where the Red Wings have called home since 1979. Colorado is 23-30-1 all-time at The Joe, including a 15-21-1 record in the regular season and an 8-9 mark in the playoffs.
While the peak of the Colorado-Detroit rivalry has long since passed, memories will always remain for those who witnessed it. As a Dearborn, Michigan, native, goaltender Jeremy Smith remembers going to The Joe and watching the Red Wings growing up.
"It's a pretty special arena. Growing up watching the Wings win back-to-back Stanley Cups there as a child, it was great," he said prior to the team's flight to Detroit on Friday. "It kind of reflects the city. There's so much character there. It's weathered the storm and everything, so yeah, it's pretty cool."
Avs Look to Continue Momentum
Colorado enters Saturday's contest as winners in three of its last five meetings and has averaged 2.2 goals per game over that span, far exceeding its 1.94 goals-per-game average in 2016-17. The scoring has also come from throughout the lineup, as those 11 combined markers in five games have come off the sticks of 10 different players.
Player to Watch
Colorado: Left wing J.T. Compher
Compher potted his first NHL goal in Wednesday night's contest, his milestone marker coming in his eighth NHL game. Compher also has Michigan ties, having played three seasons at the University of Michigan and two years in the U.S. National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor.
Detroit: Center Andreas Athanasiou
Athanasiou scored the lone goal for the Red Wings on Wednesday, his first career point against the Avalanche. The 22-year-old ranks second on the team with 16 goals this season and has registered four points (two goals, two assists) in his last four outings.
Matt Nieto, who was out of the lineup Wednesday with a lower-body injury, could potentially return to the ice on Saturday. His status is still dependent on a final evaluation from the team's medical staff, according to head coach Jared Bednar.
Calvin Pickard will make his sixth consecutive start on Saturday and the third of his career against Detroit. He's won each of the two games he's played against the Wings.
"Pick did such a good job now in back-to-back games for me. I thought that his Arizona game, that was good hard-fought game," Bednar said after Friday's on-ice session. "There were quite a few scoring chances each way. We didn't capitalize on ours, and I thought Pick did a great job, looked athletic in net. He kept us in that game because we were unable to score, and he gave us a chance. Then to come out the other night and kind of follow up his performance against the Wings. Now playing him again, I just feel like we have to go back with him."
Saturday's game is the sixth and final matinee contest of the season for the Avalanche. Puck drop is slated for 11 a.m. MT and the game can be seen live on Altitude TV. Radio listeners can hear the action on Altitude Sports Radio AM950 or online at ColoradoAvalanche.com