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MacKinnon, Compher Set For Milestone Games

Avalanche aims to extend winning streak against Blues

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

Two Colorado Avalanche forwards will celebrate milestone games this evening.

Nathan MacKinnon will dress in his 400th NHL game, while J.T. Compher will hit the first century mark with his 100th contest when the Avs host the St. Louis Blues on Division Rival Night at Pepsi Center.

"Obviously it's been fun the last few years being here, especially with this group," said Compher following the club's morning skate. "We have a lot of good guys, and it makes it fun to come to the rink every day. For me, just try and continue to be consistent. I've worked on that the last year or so."

Both players have been key contributors for the club this season, with MacKinnon centering the team's dominant top line and Compher providing important secondary scoring. The Avs lead the league with 3.8 goals per game and rank second behind the Tampa Bay Lighting with 95 total markers.

MacKinnon is second in the NHL with 41 points, trailing only linemate Mikko Rantanen, who has 42. The Avs duo has tied an Avalanche record (since 1995-96) by registering multiple points in the each of the last six games, with MacKinnon recording six goals and nine assists in that time.

After posting a career-high 97 points (39 goals and 58 assists) and finishing second in league MVP voting last year, MacKinnon is on pace to set new high marks this season with him currently owing a 1.64 points-per-game average.

"He's a finding ways to create in different ways, not just with his speed and blowing guys wide, but also by slowing down, changing gears, using his linemates," said Gabriel Landeskog, who has been a teammate of MacKinnon's since the 23-year-old's first day in the NHL. "All that stuff comes with experience. His first couple years, his speed and his hands and his skill, you can create some things, but now I think he really knows where to take advantage of guys and really pick his spots."

Selected No. 1 overall in the 2013 NHL Draft, MacKinnon has played in 399 of a possible 435 games with Colorado. The center has produced 132 goals and 212 assists (344 points) since becoming the youngest player in franchise history (18 years, 31 days) to skate in a contest on Oct. 2, 2013 versus the Anaheim Ducks.

Compher is in his third season with the Avalanche after making his NHL debut on March 2, 2017 at the Ottawa Senators. Drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the same year as MacKinnon (No. 35 overall in 2013), Colorado acquired Compher's rights in a trade on June 26, 2015 and signed him 10 months later on April 25, 2016.

Video: J.T. Compher before playing his 100th NHL game

The right wing has been limited to just nine contests this season due to injury, but he is registering nearly a point per game with six goals and two assists in those outings. Compher has tallied four points (three goals and an assist) in his last four outings since a six-week absence with a head injury.

"This year, I've been able to produce a little more," Compher said of his development over the past three seasons. "I'm more comfortable with the puck, more comfortable with the time I have out there. It's beginning to show a little bit."

In his first 99 NHL outings, Compher has produced 22 goals and 14 assists. He also has four career short-handed goals, with two coming last Friday during the same two-minute penalty kill against the Arizona Coyotes (1:25 apart)--the first time the feat had ever been accomplished in franchise history.

Last season, Compher became the first Avalanche rookie to score two or more power-play goals, short-handed goals and game-winning goals in the same campaign.

ALT ENTERS LINEUP AFTER RECALL

Mark Alt was recalled from the American Hockey League's Colorado Eagles on Thursday, and the defenseman will be in the lineup tonight.

The Avalanche is short two blueliners as Tyson Barrie will miss his third straight game with a lower-body injury and Mark Barberio is a little banged up with an upper-body ailment from Wednesday's contest versus the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Video: Alt on being back with the Avalanche

Alt, who is also the captain of the Eagles, has four assists in 19 AHL games this season. He played in seven NHL contests with the Avalanche last year after being claimed on waivers from Philadelphia on Feb. 26.

"I've been here, I know a lot of these guys. It makes that step a little easier as far as the off-ice stuff, coming to the locker room," Alt said to ColoradoAvalanche.com. "As far as the play, just continuing what we did last year."

Semyon Varlamov will start in net for Colorado and will look to match his career-long winning streak tonight. Varlamov has victories in his last five games, posting a 2.21 goals-against average and .928 save percentage.

VIEW: Avalanche Projected Lineup vs. St. Louis Blues

END OF NOVEMBER NOTES

The Avalanche wraps up November this evening, and it has been a memorable month through the first 29 days.

Colorado has a 15-6-4 record and 34 points on the season, tied for team's fourth-best start through 25 games. The team is 8-3-2 in November and can match the franchise record for wins in the month with a victory tonight (also reached in 2003-04 and 2013-14).

A win will also move the Avs into first place in the Western Conference.

The Avalanche's six-game win streak is presently tied with the Washington Capitals for the longest active streak in the NHL and second longest this season. The Avs are 8-0-1 in their last nine contests and 3-0-1 in the last four outings at Pepsi Center.

Nathan MacKinnon is tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning's Nikita Kucherov for the league lead in scoring for November with 23 points (nine goals, 14 assists) in 13 games. MacKinnon's point total for the month equals the Avalanche's November scoring record that was previously set by Peter Forsberg in the club's inaugural season in Denver in 1995-96.

Video: Bednar before Colorado hosts the Blues

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