WILD (18-15-5) at AVALANCHE (23-11-3)
8 p.m. ET; NBCSN
Cale Makar will return to the lineup when the Colorado Avalanche host the Minnesota Wild at Pepsi Center on Friday.
The rookie defenseman missed the past eight games with an upper-body injury he sustained against the Boston Bruins on Dec. 7. Makar, who will be paired with Samuel Girard, is second among NHL rookies with 28 points (eight goals, 20 assists) in 29 games.
Pavel Francouz will start for Colorado, which has gone 2-3-0 in their past five games after going 8-0-1 in their previous nine. Francouz is 9-0-1 in his past 12 appearances with a 2.03 goals-against average and .938 save percentage.
Devan Dubnyk will start for Minnesota after making 22 saves in a 3-0 shutout against the Calgary Flames on Monday. He's 3-0-1 in his past four starts with a 2.74 goals-against average and .908 save percentage.
The Wild have gone 2-1-0 in their past three games and 4-4-1 in nine after going 8-0-3 in the previous 11.
Players to watch
Wild forward Eric Staal has 10 points (six goals, four assists) in his past seven games.
Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon has 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in his past nine games.
They said it
"We dug ourselves a pretty deep hole at the start of the year. We wanted to at least get back into the playoff mix, and we've done that. It's probably going to go back and forth the rest of the year. There's always that logjam for the last two spots and on up. At least we've put ourselves in a position to be in that conversation when it was looking pretty bleak early in the year." -- Wild forward Zach Parise following a 4-9-1 start to the season
"You never want to be injured. At the same time, it is what it is. These things take time and you have to prepare yourself for whatever comes your way. I'm excited to be back." -- Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar
Wild projected lineup
Zach Parise -- Eric Staal -- Mats Zuccarello
Ryan Donato - Joel Eriksson Ek -- Kevin Fiala
Jordan Greenway -- Nico Sturm -- Luke Kunin
Marcus Foligno -- Victor Rask -- Ryan Hartman
Ryan Suter -- Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin -- Carson Soucy
Brad Hunt -- Matt Dumba
Scratched: Nick Seeler
Injured: Mikko Koivu (lower body), Greg Pateryn (lower body), Jason Zucker (lower body)
Avalanche projected lineup
Gabriel Landeskog -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Mikko Rantanen
Andre Burakovsky -- Nazem Kadri -- Joonas Donskoi
Valeri Nichushkin -- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare- - Matt Calvert
Tyson Jost -- J.T. Compher -- Matt Nieto
Samuel Girard -- Cale Makar
Ryan Graves -- Erik Johnson
Nikita Zadorov -- Ian Cole
Scratched: Mark Barberio, Vladislav Kamenev
Injured: Colin Wilson (lower body)
The Avalanche reassigned defenseman Anton Lindholm to Colorado of the American Hockey League.
Parise has 11 points (six goals, five assists) in his past 15 games. … Rantanen has seven points (five goals, two assists) in his past seven games.