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Preview: Wild at Avalanche

Minnesota looks to forward Jason Zucker for speed on top line; Colorado juggles line combinations

by Rick Sadowski / NHL.com Correspondent

WILD (6-3-1) at AVALANCHE (4-5-0)

3 p.m. ET; ALT, FS-N, SN, NHL.TV

 

Wild team scope

Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau will replace Nino Niederreiter with Jason Zucker on the top line with center Eric Staal and right wing Charlie Coyle, hopeful Zucker's speed can help spark the unit. The Mikael Granlund-Mikko Koivu-Jason Pominville line will remain intact. "Our top six are really important because we depend on them to score goals," Boudreau said after practice Friday. "We need Eric's line and Mikko's line to be our producers. They play all the power plays, they are the guys that play 18-20 minutes, so we need them." Zucker, who began the season on the fourth line, has two goals and five assists. Niederreiter, who has two goals and three assists, will skate with center Tyler Graovac and right wing Christoph Bertschy on the fourth line. The Wild had a three-game winning streak snapped Tuesday in a 2-1 home loss to the Buffalo Sabres. Goaltender Devin Dubnyk's shutout streak ended at 183:16, an individual franchise record; he had three consecutive shutouts in the streak. Dubnyk has a 1.51 goals-against average and .948 save percentage. Minnesota has killed 26 of 27 penalties this season. The Wild have gone 8-1-1 with five shutouts in their past 10 games against the Avalanche.

 

Avalanche team scope

The Colorado Avalanche didn't practice Friday following their 4-0 road loss Thursday at the Chicago Blackhawks. They've lost four of their past five games and were outscored 9-1 in the past two. Coach Jared Bednar tweaked line combinations in the third period Thursday, moving center Matt Duchene to right wing on a line with center Nathan MacKinnon and left wing Mikko Rantanen. "We got some really good looks," Duchene told the Denver Post. "Mikko was flying. If we stay together, I think we can be a good line." Goaltender Semyon Varlamov allowed four goals on 21 shots against the Blackhawks. "Their goalie [Corey Crawford] was great and ours has to be better," Bednar said. Varlamov has permitted 15 goals in his past four games, so Calvin Pickard could get the start against the Wild. The Avalanche have lost two straight at Pepsi Center following a 6-5 season-opening win against the Dallas Stars on Oct. 15. Colorado is 2-for-22 on the power play in the past seven games and have killed 21 of 23 penalties in a six-game stretch.

 

Wild projected lineup

Jason Zucker -- Eric Staal -- Charlie Coyle

Mikael Granlund -- Mikko Koivu -- Jason Pominville

Jordan Schroeder -- Joel Eriksson Ek -- Chris Stewart

Nino Niederreiter -- Tyler Graovac -- Christophe Bertschy

Ryan Suter -- Matt Dumba

Nate Prosser -- Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin -- Christian Folin

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

Scratched: None

Injured: Zac Dalpe (knee), Erik Haula (foot), Zach Parise  (lower body), Marco Scandella  (lower body)

 

Avalanche projected lineup

Mikko Rantanen -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Matt Duchene

Gabriel Landeskog -- Mikhail Grigorenko -- Jarome Iginla

Rene Bourque -- Carl Soderberg -- Blake Comeau

Andreas Martinsen -- John Mitchell -- Joe Colborne

Nikita Zadorov -- Erik Johnson

Francois Beauchemin -- Tyson Barrie

Patrick Wiercioch -- Fedor Tyutin

Calvin Pickard

Semyon Varlamov

Scratched: Eric Gelinas, Cody McLeod

Injured: None

 

Status report

Parise skated Friday, but didn't practice. Scandella is week to week. Each has missed two games. Haula, who has missed six games, is expected to return in a week. Dalpe is on injured reserve ... The Avalanche placed Mitchell on waivers Friday. Mitchell, 31, is in his fifth season with Colorado. He has no points in four games after missing the first five because of a hip injury.

 

Who's hot

Suter has two goals and three assists in the past four games. ... Granlund has two goals and one assist in the past two games. Duchene has five goals and three assists in the past six games.

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