GAME: Colorado Avalanche (18-14-3) at Minnesota Wild (14-16-4).
TIME: Friday, 8 p.m. EST.
The Colorado Avalanche will try to continue their dominance of the Minnesota Wild when they conclude a home-and-home series at the Xcel Energy Center.
Colorado improved to 15-2-3-2 all-time in the series with a 4-3 home win over Minnesota on Thursday. The Wild are just 1-9-2-0 all-time in Denver during the regular season, but haven't fared much better at home in the series. The Avalanche have earned a point in nine of 10 all-time road meetings (6-1-1-2).
However, Minnesota is 2-2-1 in its last five home meetings with Colorado, with both victories coming in overtime, including a 5-4 victory in the last meeting there on March 31, 2004.
Marek Svatos scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period Thursday and Peter Budaj made some big saves to help the Avs hold off the Wild.
Antti Laaksonen, Andrew Brunette and Brett McLean also scored, with McLean's goal sparking controversy. Replays from above showed that the puck had slipped under the side of the net after it was bumped and knocked off its moorings.
Though everyone in the TV audience saw the mishap, the replay officials missed it.
"If I'm paying those guys' salaries, I don't want them in there," Minnesota center Wes Walz said. "It's a joke. Why do we even have replay officials if they're not going to call that?"
"We caught a break," Avs coach Joel Quenneville said. "We have had a couple against us this year, too."
Colorado won for just the second time in six games despite going 0-for-7 on the power play against the league's best penalty killing unit. The Avs had scored with the man advantage in eight straight games, with 12 goals in that span.
Minnesota, though, has killed off 23 straight penalties.
Svatos had his team-leading 18th goal and seventh game-winner of the season, a team record.
"It's a great feeling to be in the right time at the right spot," Svatos said.
Budaj excelled for the Avs, making 27 saves to win his first start since Nov. 18.
Andrei Zyuzin had a goal and an assist for the Wild, who had won three of their last four.
Dwayne Roloson made 33 saves in place of Manny Fernandez, who leads the league with a 2.01 goals against-average and a .933 save percentage through Wednesday's game.
Fernandez is just 1-7-1 with a 3.55 GAA in nine career starts against the Avalanche.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 22): Avalanche - 39 points, 4th place, 5 PB, Northwest Division. Wild - 32 points, 5th place, 12 PB, Northwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Avalanche - Svatos, 18 goals; Alex Tanguay, 26 assists and 38 points; Ian Laperriere, 59 PIM. Wild - Brian Rolston, 15 goals and 31 points; Pierre-Marc Bouchard, 20 assists; Derek Boogaard, 62 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 22): Avalanche - Power play: 19.6 percent (44 for 224), 6th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.3 percent (166 for 197), 5th. Wild - Power play: 19 percent (36 for 190), tied for 9th. Penalty killing: 90 percent (170 for 189), 1st.
GOALTENDERS: Avalanche - David Aebischer (11-7-0, 1 SO, 3.50 GAA); Budaj (4-4-3, 2.59). Wild - Fernandez (10-5-3, 1, 2.01); Roloson (4-11-1, 1, 2.67).
SEASON SERIES: Avalanche, 1-0-0.
LAST MEETING: Thursday; Avalanche, 4-3. At Colorado, Mikko Koivu and Brent Burns scored for the Wild.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Avalanche - 9-9-0 on the road; Wild - 9-6-1 at home.