AVALANCHE (23-10-1) at KINGS (24-8-4)
TV: NHLN-US, RDS, ALT, FS-W
Last 10: Colorado 5-4-1; Los Angeles 8-2-0
Season series: This is the second of three games between the Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings. Semyon Varlamov and Ben Scrivens were involved in a scoreless deadlock that extended all the way into overtime when they played at Staples Center on Nov. 23. Jamie McGinn finally delivered a 1-0 win for the Avalanche when he scored 2:32 into the extra period.
Big story: A similar result Saturday would hardly be unexpected. Los Angeles is first in the NHL with a 1.86 goals-against average, while Colorado was tied for sixth entering Friday at 2.32. Scrivens and Martin Jones have been virtually impenetrable for the Kings, with Jones 7-0-0 with an 0.85 goals-against average and .971 save percentage to begin his career.
Avalanche: It's another opportunity for Colorado to string together back-to-back wins for the first time since they swept a home-and-home from the Minnesota Wild to end November. The Avalanche are still in solid playoff position as they begin a three-game road trip, five points up on the ninth seed in the Western Conference.
Special teams keyed the Avalanche to a 4-2 win against the visiting Edmonton Oilers on Thursday. Tyson Barrie's power-play goal evened the score early in the second period and a shorthanded goal by Maxime Talbot with 1:32 left in the second proved decisive.
"Me and Max have been talking about it for quite a while, that we were due. It was a big goal," Marc-Andre Cliche, who set up Talbot's goal, said in the Denver Post. "I just read the play. I know those guys like to make the pass through you and I got lucky and got a stick on it. I went down there and the D came down on me hard and I dished to Max and he did the rest."
Kings: The Elias Sports Bureau reports Jones is the third NHL goalie to win his first seven starts, joining Bob Froese with the 1982-83 Philadelphia Flyers and Wayne Thomas with the 1972-73 Montreal Canadiens. Froese holds the record with eight, a mark Jones could equal if he gets the nod Saturday.
The Kings have a pair of victories to start a four-game homestand that concludes Monday against the Dallas Stars. Their balanced scoring continued in a 4-1 win Thursday against the San Jose Sharks, as Jeff Carter and Dwight King each scored his 10th goal of the season and Tyler Toffoli had his ninth. Jones came within 2:10 of his fourth shutout and also picked up an assist.
"It's fun, but again I've said it 100 times here: It's a start," Jones said. "I just want to make sure we close out these last two games [on the homestand] and keep working, keep doing the things that have made me successful."
Who's hot: Matt Duchene has four goals and six assists in his past five games for the Avalanche. Talbot has two goals and two assists in his past four games. … King has three goals and three assists in his past four games and Carter has three goals and five assists in his past five games for the Kings to support Jones.
Injury report: Colorado is without defenseman Ryan Wilson (back) and forward Alex Tanguay (knee/hip). … Los Angeles is without goalie Jonathan Quick (groin) and defenseman Willie Mitchell (upper body).