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Avalanche's Pickard gets another audition vs. Stars

by Rick Sadowski / NHL.com

STARS (9-9-5) at AVALANCHE (8-10-5)

TV: TXA-21, ALT

DENVER -- Rookie goalie Calvin Pickard will make his second consecutive start when the Colorado Avalanche play the Dallas Stars at Pepsi Center on Saturday and has a chance to supplant struggling Reto Berra as Semyon Varlamov's backup.

Pickard, 22, has stopped 84 of 87 shots in his past three games, two of which came in relief of Berra, who was replaced in the first period of both games. Pickard made a career-high 42 saves in the Avalanche's 3-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday, after making a combined 42 saves without allowing a goal in back-to-back relief wins against the Carolina Hurricanes and Arizona Coyotes.

Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said that Pickard, who was recalled from the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League for a second time on Nov. 18, would not be sent back to the AHL once Varlamov recovers from his groin injury if a decision had to be made now.

"We'll see, things could change. Right now he deserves to stay," said Roy, who said the Avalanche will not carry three goalies when Varlamov is healthy.

Varlamov has resumed practicing after sustaining a groin injury Nov. 15 against the New Jersey Devils and is expected to be activated from injured reserve in time to start against the Montreal Canadiens on Monday.

"In the two games he came in [replacing Berra] and the game he played against Chicago, he was outstanding," Roy said of Pickard. "Good for him. We always said to our players, it's up to them to force us to make decisions and that's exactly what he's been doing.

"Certainly I'm going to encourage our players to play well, especially the ones who come from the minors. If they come and they play better than our guys, then obviously we have to look at it. This is the situation that happened. I would say it's too early to make a final decision."

Pickard is 2-3-0 with a 2.24 goals-against average and .933 save percentage. Berra is 2-2-1 with a 3.57 GAA and .883 save percentage.

The Dallas Stars didn't have a morning skate after losing 5-4 in overtime to the Minnesota Wild on Friday. The Stars are winless (0-5-3) against Central Division opponents, as are the Avalanche (0-3-2).

Anders Lindback is expected to start in goal for Dallas and is 0-4-0 with a 4.52 GAA and .845 save percentage.

Here are the projected lineups:

STARS

Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Patrick Eaves

Erik Cole - Jason Spezza - Ales Hemsky

Antoine Roussel - Cody Eakin - Colton Sceviour

Shawn Horcoff - Vernon Fiddler - Travis Moen

Trevor Daley - Jason Demers

Alex Goligoski - John Klingberg

Jyrki Jokipakka - Jamie Oleksiak

Anders Lindback

Kari Lehtonen

Scratched: Jordie Benn, Ryan Garbutt (suspension)

Injured: Patrik Nemeth (arm laceration), Valeri Nichushkin (hip)

AVALANCHE

Alex Tanguay - Matt Duchene - Ryan O'Reilly

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Jarome Iginla

Maxime Talbot - John Mitchell - Daniel Briere

Cody McLeod - Marc-Andre Cliche - Tomas Vincour

Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson

Nate Guenin - Tyson Barrie

Nick Holden - Zach Redmond

Calvin Pickard

Reto Berra

Scratched: Ben Street

Injured: Patrick Bordeleau (back surgery), Dennis Everberg (separated shoulder), Jamie McGinn (back), Brad Stuart (hamstring), Semyon Varlamov (groin), Ryan Wilson (shoulder), Jesse Winchester (concussion)

Status report: The Stars on Saturday assigned left wing Curtis McKenzie to the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League ... Johnson and Mitchell will return to the Avalanche lineup. Johnson missed one game because of a sore neck and Mitchell three games because of a leg injury.

Who's hot: Jamie Benn has three goals and six assists on a five-game scoring streak ... Seguin has four goals and two assists on a three-game point streak ... Landeskog has two goals and four assists in his past five games ... MacKinnon has six assists in his past four games.

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