With its quick trip to Minnesota barely 12 hours in the past, there was just a few Colorado players available in the Avalanche locker room Saturday for morning skate media sessions.
One player who was available, though, was Paul Stastny—and that’s a good sign for Colorado, which plays the Wild again tonight (7 p.m. MT) at Pepsi Center.
Stastny came up a bit lame with back spasms before the Avs’ Wednesday night game against St. Louis, and he didn’t travel with the team to St. Paul. Matt Duchene, who had missed Colorado’s three games prior to Wednesday, filled Stastny’s void and skated against the Blues but was admittedly not 100 percent.
Now, after Duchene played a full game Wednesday and against last night in the Avs' 3-1 win at Xcel Energy Center, it seems both he and Stastny are ready for a full return, fortifying the Avs forward depth.
“I should be fine,” Stastny said. “Just kind of a day-to-day thing acted up a little bit. I didn’t want to push it and try to come back too early and not finish a game, so tonight will be good.
“[Back spasms are] something I’ve dealt with for awhile, so to me it’s all about maintaining certain things away from the ice. Sometimes I’ve got to do better.”
With Stastny's return, Colorado head coach Patrick Roy was a bit coy with his anticipated line adjustments for tonight’s Wild rematch, but he eventually let on that Stastny would likely center a group with wingers Jamie McGinn and PA Parenteau.
“We have a couple ideas that we would like to try,” Roy said on Stastny's return. “I would love to give you some decisions, but we’ll see in the afternoon. We’ll make a decision just before warm-ups [of] what’s going to be our lines.
He then continued with a bit more of a concrete answer and finished with a smile.
“I can say to you, though, McGinn and Parenteau with him was really good in that streak (from Nov. 19 to 23, when Colorado went 3-0 against Chicago, Phoenix and Los Angeles). I’m planning right now to use that. See? More open than you thought.”
Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog assisted on Colorado’s first two goals last night in St. Paul before capping a three-point game when he scored into an empty net with 20 seconds to play, clinching the Avs’ road win.
The effort was the second three-point game of Landeskog’s career, matching his output from Feb. 28, 2013 when he also had a goal and two assists in the Avs’ 5-4 win against Calgary.
Landeskog—who has 11 points already this month (five goals/six assists)—played on a line last night with Nathan MacKinnon (one goal/one assist) and Parenteau, a combination Roy utilized Wednesday in the third period of Colorado’s game against Wednesday.
“Last night, 'Landy' (Landeskog) played unbelievable, and 'Razor' (MacKinnon) played great, too,” Stastny said. “That line kind of stepped up.”
PREGAME NOTES OF NOTE
- The Avs are playing tonight their second back-to-back set of the season after beating Minnesota 3-1 last night in St. Paul. Colorado swept its first back-to-back, defeating Dallas and Montreal to begin the month of November. The Avalanche will play a total of 10 back-to-backs this year after participating in nine during the shortened season a year ago.
“I like back-to-backs when we win the first game—that’s what I like,” Roy said. “It’s a good challenge for our team. [Minnesota] is a very good team. They showed a lot of things in that third period (Friday night). We watched it last night on the plane, [and] this morning, [and] we talked about it.”
- At 18-6-0 (36 points), the Avs have posted their most wins and second-most points through 24 games in franchise history. Only Colorado’s 2000-01 team, which claimed the franchise’s second Stanley Cup championship, had more points (37).
- Jan Hejda last night scored his third goal this season, tops among Avalanche defensemen, and has a three-game point streak (one goal/two assists), tying his career long (Jan. 7-10, 2010). Hejda leads the Avalanche in plus-minus (plus 17), hits (66) and average ice time (22:46).
- Nathan MacKinnon scored the game-winning goal last night, on a tip of a Landeskog shot, and added an assist in last night's victory over the Wild. The latter was MacKinnon's 11th helper of the season, tops among all NHL rookies. He also leads all rookies in shots (70) and is tied for second in points (15) and game-winning goals (two).