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Wild, Avalanche to complete home-and-home

by Dan Myers

WILD (15-8-4) at AVALANCHE (18-6-0)


Last 10: Minnesota 6-4-0; Colorado 6-4-0

Season series: This is the second of five games. Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped 27 shots (16 in the third period) when the Colorado Avalanche defeated the Minnesota Wild 3-1 Friday night in St. Paul in the front half of back-to-back games between the former Northwest Division rivals.

Big story: The Wild have lost three straight games and seen their offense go dormant over that stretch, scoring two goals. Their power play, once top-five in the NHL, has scored on three of its past 29 chances.

Team Scope:

Wild: It's a three-game losing streak for Minnesota but things have been heading south for longer than that. The Wild have allowed the first goal in six straight games.

"We played a soft hockey game," Wild wing Zach Parise said Friday. "We'd cheat, we turned the puck over, and once we were doing it right in the third period we started to get some chances. We turn it over, we turn away from everybody. We make it pretty easy for them. That slows us down."

The Wild have been without forward Mikael Granlund for all but 29 seconds of the past four games and will be without him for at least two more after he was placed on injured reserve Thursday. Parise was hurt blocking a shot in a 3-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Monday and was expected to miss two to three weeks, but he returned Friday. Minnesota also lost fourth-line center Zenon Konopka to an eye injury during the first period Friday, one that will keep the enforcer and faceoff specialist out of the lineup Saturday.

"It seems to take us a 2-0 deficit right now to find the urgency level to be effective in the game," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "We seem to think we're pretty good and we don't need to do things that brought us success. Hopefully we're taking a lesson, we're taking notes."

Avalanche: Colorado continues to get stellar production in goal. Friday it was Giguere, now 6-0-0. Saturday, it's likely to be Semyon Varlamov, 12-6-0 with a 2.14 goals-against average and .932 save percentage. Each ranks among the NHL leaders in most statistical categories.

"We have two great goalies that have played awesome for us," Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson said.

Forward Gabriel Landeskog broke out of a mini-slump Friday, scoring a goal and assisting on each of Colorado's others; he had scored one point in his previous five games. Landeskog is second on the Avalanche in points with 19 and tied for third in goals with eight.

"It felt good to get on the board, especially to get a goal there in the third [period]," Landeskog said. "It is what it is. I'll take those as they come, for sure."

Who's hot: Wild forward Dany Heatley has scored four goals and five points over the past six games. After going the first 10 games without a goal, Heatley is tied for third on the team (six). … Avalanche defenseman Jan Hejda has scored points in three straight games, including the first goal Friday. He's second-best in the NHL with a plus-17 rating.

Injury report: Granlund (upper body) and Konopka (eye) are out. … Avalanche forwards Alex Tanguay (knee) and Ryan Wilson (back) are on injured reserve. Forward Paul Stastny (back) missed the game Friday and is questionable for Saturday.

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