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Preview: Avalanche at Flames

Goalie Brian Elliott to start for Calgary, Calvin Pickard for Colorado

by Aaron Vickers / Correspondent

AVALANCHE (12-24-1) at FLAMES (20-17-2)

10 p.m. ET; SNW, ALT, NHL.TV


Avalanche team scope

Goaltender Calvin Pickard will make his sixth consecutive start for the Colorado Avalanche, who remain without Semyon Varlamov because of a groin injury. "I would say the last little bit now that [Pickard] has settled in and knows he's going, he's got back to his old game and not trying to do too much … just being himself in the net," coach Jared Bednar said. "I think he put a bit of pressure on himself with [Varlamov] out." Varlamov hasn't played since Dec. 22 and has missed eight of the past 10 games because of a groin injury. "He's progressing," Bednar said. "He's at home skating on his own right now and doing some work off the ice. We felt with him not being able to play on the trip, to leave him there and get some work done. We'll see when we get back there [Thursday] and try to figure out exactly what his timeline is going to be." Pickard has a 3.65 goals against average and .887 save percentage in his past five starts. He has lost four straight, and Colorado is 1-9-0 and has been outscored 39-16 in its past games overall. "We haven't supported him the way we should," forward Joe Colborne said. "He's in there battling for every puck. Without the way his goaltending has been there could've been some real, real ugly games. We definitely have let him down in that respect, but not once have we heard a single negative thing from him. I can't say enough for the way he's approached it."


Flames team scope

Goaltender Brian Elliott is expected to start for the Calgary Flames, who have won three of their past four games and 10 of 14. "In this league you need to have a good goalie like that and be hot," forward Michael Frolik said. "He's doing that. He makes the right saves at the right times for us. Before it was [Chad Johnson]. Now it's him. It's great to have two goalies like that." Elliott has a 2.00 goals against average and .918 save percentage during a personal four-game winning streak after Johnson had started 15 of the previous 17 games. "It's not how many goals you let in … it's the saves they make and at what times," coach Glen Gulutzan said. "In the past four games [Elliott] has been elite. He's given us big saves at the right times." Frolik, Matthew Tkachuk and Mikael Backlund are riding point streaks. Backlund has five goals and eight points in a four-game streak and is one point away from 200 in his NHL career. "[Backlund] is hot. I'm happy for him," Frolik said. "Hopefully he can continue." Frolik has five assists and six points in a four-game streak, and Tkachuk has six assists and seven points in a six-game streak. "They give us all that zone time and with their forecheck create time for themselves and give themselves opportunities," Gulutzan said. "They've been a real solid line all through."


Avalanche projected lineup

Gabriel Landeskog -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Rene Bourque

Mikko Rantanen -- Matt Duchene -- Jarome Iginla

Mikhail Grigorenko -- Carl Soderberg -- Blake Comeau

Cody McLeod -- John Mitchell -- Joe Colborne

Fedor Tyutin -- Tyson Barrie

Francois Beauchemin -- Nikita Zadorov

Patrick Wiercioch -- Cody Goloubef

Calvin Pickard

Jeremy Smith

Scratched : Andreas Martinsen

Injured : Erik Johnson (broken fibula), Semyon Varlamov (groin), Eric Gelinas (lower body)


Flames projected lineup

Johnny Gaudreau -- Sean Monahan -- Alex Chiasson

Matthew Tkachuk -- Mikael Backlund -- Michael Frolik

Kris Versteeg -- Sam Bennett -- Micheal Ferland

Lance Bouma -- Matt Stajan -- Freddie Hamilton

Mark Giordano -- Dougie Hamilton

TJ Brodie -- Dennis Wideman

Tyler Wotherspoon -- Deryk Engelland

Brian Elliott

Chad Johnson

Scratched: Jyrki Jokipakka, Garnet Hathaway

Injured: Ladislav Smid (neck), Troy Brouwer (finger)

Status report

The Avalanche and Flames held optional morning skates. … Wotherspoon will play in place of Jokipakka, and Freddie Hamilton will play in place of Hathaway after being a healthy scratch the past 12 games.

Who's hot

Barrie has six assists and seven points during a five-game point streak. ... Gaudreau has four goals and 14 points in 12 games since returning from a fractured finger.

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