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game preview

Avalanche at Senators preview

Colorado eyes second place in Central; Ottawa forward Paul back from lower-body injury

by Callum Fraser / Independent Correspondent

AVALANCHE (29-16-6) at SENATORS (18-24-11)

7:30 p.m. ET; TSN5, RDS2, ALT, NHL.TV


The Game

The Colorado Avalanche can move into second place in the Central Division with their fifth win in six games when they visit the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Thursday.

The Avalanche, one point behind the Dallas Stars with two games in hand, are 4-1-0 in their past five games after a four-game winless streak (0-2-2). They trail the first-place St. Louis Blues by eight points.

Senators forward Nick Paul will play for the first time since sustaining a lower-body injury Jan. 7. He has 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in 38 games.

Ottawa is on a three-game winless streak (0-1-2) and 2-6-7 in its past 15 games.


Players to watch

Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon has 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) in his past 12 games.

Senators forward Drake Batherson has five points (one goal, four assists) in his past five games.


They said it

"We shot the puck, we had some real good shots, some good decisions, still made some plays off the rush, so it was good to capitalize and see our guys gain a little confidence." -- Avalanche coach Jared Bednar after a 6-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday

"It's going to be a tough test, for sure. I think he's close to the best players in the League right now. He's having a great year and he did it last year. I mean, he's a guy that's so powerful, such a great skater, can do anything with the puck, but it's going to be a big challenge for us, as a team. We're going to have to bring our 'A' game, for sure, to give ourselves a good chance." -- Senators defenseman Thomas Chabot on Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon


Avalanche projected lineup

Gabriel Landeskog -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Mikko Rantanen

Valeri Nichushkin -- Nazem Kadri -- Andre Burakovsky

Matt Calvert -- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare -- J.T. Compher

Matt Nieto -- Tyson Jost -- Joonas Donskoi

Ryan Graves -- Cale Makar

Samuel Girard -- Erik Johnson

Nikita Zadorov -- Ian Cole

Philipp Grubauer

Pavel Francouz

Scratched: Vladislav Kamenev, Calle Rosen

Injured: Colin Wilson (lower body)


Senators projected lineup

Brady Tkachuk -- Jean-Gabriel Pageau -- Connor Brown

Nick Paul -- Chris Tierney -- Anthony Duclair

Tyler Ennis -- Artem Anisimov -- Drake Batherson

Filip Chlapik -- Colin White -- Scott Sabourin

Thomas Chabot -- Ron Hainsey

Mark Borowiecki -- Dylan DeMelo

Mike Reilly -- Nikita Zaitsev

Marcus Hogberg

Craig Anderson

Scratched: Mikkel Boedker, Cody Goloubef

Injured: Anders Nilsson (concussion), Vladislav Namestnikov (lower body)


Status report

The Avalanche sent defenseman Mark Barberio to Colorado of the American Hockey League for a conditioning stint and recalled Rosen, also a defenseman. … Namestnikov, a forward, is day to day after blocking a shot against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday. He was too sore to skate Thursday but hopes to play at the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday, Senators coach D.J. Smith said.


Stat pack

Burakovsky has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) during a five-game point streak. … The Senators are 41.2 percent on the power play since the All-Star break, fourth in the NHL.

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