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Dubnyk to make debut for Avalanche vs. Predators

by Mike Battaglino

AVALANCHE (30-12-5) at PREDATORS (21-21-7)


Last 10: Colorado 7-1-2; Nashville 4-3-3

Season series: The Colorado Avalanche and Nashville Predators split two games in the season's first month. PA Parenteau scored twice in Colorado's 3-1 win Oct. 4. Colin Wilson had two goals and two assists in Nashville's 6-4 win Nov. 6.

Big story: Goaltender Devan Dubnyk is likely to make his first start in goal for the Predators since arriving in a trade from the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.

"[It] still feels a little bit surreal. If you had asked me, I wasn't sure if here was a possibility, and I'm beyond excited that it is," Dubnyk told The Tennessean on Thursday. "I get a chance to play here. I've always thought it was a great team, and to get an opportunity to come to a group like this, I'm beyond excited."

Team Scope:

Avalanche: Colorado has lost its past seven trips to Nashville, outscored 27-15. Dubnyk is 6-4-0 in his career against the Avalanche, including 1-1-0 with a 2.54 goals-against average and .932 save percentage this season.

"He seems to always to play well against us when he played for Edmonton," forward Cody McLeod told the team website Friday. "He's a big goalie (6-foot-6), he's going to see a lot of pucks, so we have to make sure that we get in front of him and take his sight lines away, and hopefully get some ugly ones."

Center Paul Stastny (leg) is likely to return after missing two games. With several forwards sidelined, Colorado played with 11 in a 2-1 shootout win against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday.

"It gives a chance to everyone to play more and prove something, and I think that's what our guys have been doing," coach Patrick Roy told the Denver Post. "I'm very pleased. These are great character wins. It could be easy for us to feel sorry when we're losing players, and it's not the case. We keep going."

Predators: Dubnyk was 11-17-2 with a 3.36 goals-against average and .894 save percentage for Edmonton this season. He backed up Carter Hutton in Nashville's 4-3 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.

Nashville is 16-17-6 since goalie Pekka Rinne was sidelined by an infection in his surgically repaired hip, using Hutton and Marek Mazanec. The Predators reassigned Mazanec to Milwaukee of the American Hockey League on Friday.

"They're a real solid defensive team," Dubnyk said, according to The Canadian Press. "It's an unfortunate situation there with Pekka Rinne. It's obviously just a strange injury and you never want to see that. For right now, though, it's an opportunity for me to play some games there from now to the end of the year."

Who's hot: Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov has not lost in regulation since Dec. 10 (10-0-5). Forward Ryan O'Reilly has 15 points in the past 16 games. … Predators defenseman Shea Weber has 21 points (five goals) in his past 20 games. Forward Mike Fisher has 12 points (five goals) in his past 11. Forward Craig Smith has 12 points (eight goals) in his past 15. Forward David Legwand has seven points (two goals) in his past six. Nashville is the only team in the NHL that hasn't allowed a shorthanded goal this season, and has gone 67 games without doing so.

Injury report: Parenteau (knee) said he is targeting Tuesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs for his return. Avalanche forward Alex Tanguay (knee) said he is closer to returning. Defensemen Nate Guenin (ankle) and Cory Sarich (back), and forward David Van Der Gulik (undisclosed) are on injured reserve. … Predators defenseman Kevin Klein (illness) did not play Thursday. Rinne has been cleared for weight-bearing exercise but there is no timetable for his return.

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