The Colorado Avalanche wraps up a three-game road trip on Saturday night at the Winnipeg Jets, the fifth and final matchup of the season between the Central Division opponents and the second of two on the road in the 2016-17 series.
The Avs are 17-13-6 overall against the Winnipeg franchise with a 7-7-3 record on the road.
Colorado is 2-2-0 against the Jets this season with both wins coming at Pepsi Center. The Avalanche fell 4-1 on its lone trip to Winnipeg on Dec. 18. The Avs and Jets have each scored nine goals in the season series and two of the four contests have been decided by a single marker.
"Usually our games against the Jets are tight, one-goal games," said defenseman Erik Johnson following Friday's practice. "They're coming off a back-to-back and we have a back-to-back Saturday and Sunday, so it's just part of the game and looking forward to playing some more hockey."
Last Time Out
The Avalanche is coming off a 2-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night. Colorado trailed 2-0 after 40 minutes of play before Rene Bourque, in his third game back from injury, potted his 10th goal of the season to bring the Avs within one. Calvin Pickard finished with 40 saves, but the Avalanche was unable to find the equalizer, falling for the second time on the road trip.
In Winnipeg on Friday night, Connor Hellebuyck made 29 saves to lead the Jets to a 3-0 shutout victory over the St. Louis Blues. Winnipeg took a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal midway through the opening period and scored two empty-net markers in the final 2:16 of regulation. Blake Wheeler finished with two goals and an assist, and Jacob Trouba's six hits were his second highest of the season.
Last Time They Met
Colorado won the last meeting 5-2, which was played at Pepsi Center on Feb. 4. Matt Duchene tied a career high with three assists and Matt Nieto recorded two goals, also tying a career best. The Avalanche was 1-for-2 on the power play and outshot the Jets 28-25, while Calvin Pickard finished with 23 saves. Adam Lowry scored twice for Winnipeg.
Saturday's tilt is part of a back-to-back set for both Winnipeg and Colorado, and the St. Louis Blues are the other opponent for both squads. For Winnipeg, Saturday is the second game of the set, while it's the first for the Avs, who return home on Sunday to face their Central Division-rival Blues.
This will be the ninth of 11 two-in-two sets for the Avalanche, which hasn't fared as well in Game 1 of a set, going 2-6-0 this season.
Jets Fighting for the Playoffs
Winnipeg enters Saturday's game fighting for its playoff life, sitting just four points behind the Los Angeles Kings for the Western Conference's second wild card spot.
The Jets were in a similar position when these two teams met in early February, two points out of a wild card entry into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"We're playing for pride and trying to play the spoiler role," said Johnson. "You have to find ways to motivate yourself for these games when other teams are fighting for the playoffs… we have to find some ways to stay competitive and continue to try and find ways to win."
Pickard Makes Fourth Start Against Jets
Calvin Pickard is slated to make his fourth career start against the Jets and his second in his hometown of Winnipeg. Pickard is 2-1-0 in his three games against the Jets and was in net for Colorado's last road contest of the season series, making 26 saves in a 4-1 loss. He stopped 23 pucks in the Avs' 5-2 win over the Jets on Feb. 4.
Player to Watch
Colorado: Center Matt Duchene
The Avs' leading goalscorer has averaged a point per game against Winnipeg in his career with 24 points (11 goals, 13 assists) in 24 career contests against the Jets. Duchene has recorded five multi-goal games this season, the most by an Avalanche player since 2010-11, when he and David Jones both had five. Duchene's career high is six, set in 2009-10.
Winnipeg: Right wing Blake Wheeler
The Jets captain enters Saturday's contest riding a three-game point streak in which he's totaled five points (two goals, three assists). His two goals and four points against Colorado this season are tied with Nikolaj Ehlers for the team lead, and he has 28 points (10 goals, 18 points) in 24 career games against the Avs, tied for his most against a single opponent in his career.
Saturday's game between the Avalanche and the Jets begins at 5 p.m. MT and can be watched live on Altitude 2. Radio listeners can tune into FM 9.25 The Wolf or listen in online at ColoradoAvalanche.com.