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Wild Warmup: Minnesota vs. Colorado

Central Division rivals clash as Minnesota aims to extend winning streak Sunday in St. Paul

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe / Wild.com
The essentials

Who: Colorado Avalanche (31-16-6) at Minnesota Wild (26-22-6)

Puck drop: 6:40 p.m. CT

Watch: NBCSN

Listen: KFAN FM 100.3, Wild Radio NetworkWild NHL App

Follow: @mnwild, @mnwildscribe; GameCenter


The Wild Warmup is presented by Bryant Heating and Cooling


ST. PAUL -- The Wild will try and extend its winning streak to four games when it returns home to host the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday at Xcel Energy Center.

Minnesota was off Saturday following a dramatic 3-2 win in Dallas Friday night, a game the Wild won on a goal by Joel Eriksson Ek with 26 seconds remaining in regulation. Devan Dubnyk made 31 saves and Eriksson Ek scored twice as the Wild dug out from a two-goal deficit in the second period. 

The victory came on the heels of consecutive wins in St. Paul against the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks.

Minnesota begins a four-game homestand on Sunday, the final stretch of a span of 18 out of 22 played in downtown St. Paul. 

The Wild begins the homestand three points behind both Arizona and Winnipeg for a wild card position in the Western Conference. Minnesota has three games in hand on the Coyotes and two games on the Jets, which could make this homestand extremely consequential. 

The four-game stretch on friendly ice is Minnesota's longest remaining homestand this season.

In facing Colorado, the Wild will try and secure the season series Sunday. The Avalanche won 4-2 in the first meeting of the season in Denver, but Minnesota has responded with victories in each of the past two games, including a 3-2 win in St. Paul on Nov. 21 and a 6-4 victory in Denver in the first game back after the Christmas break. 

In three matchups this season, defenseman Ryan Suter has two goals and five points to lead all players. Nine different Wild players have at least two points against Colorado this season. 

The Avs will be playing for the second time in as many days following a 2-1 victory in Columbus on Saturday. Colorado has won three-straight games and sits five points back of the St. Louis Blues for first place in the Central Division. The Avalanche, who have played the fewest games in the League this season (53), have three games in hand. Their plus-42 goal differential is third-best in the NHL and No. 1 in the Western Conference.

Colorado's win Saturday snapped the nine-game winning streak of Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins, but it didn't come easy. Merzlikins appeared poised to post a third consecutive shutout before a third-period rally by the visitors. Nazem Kadri and Nathan MacKinnon scored goals less than four minutes apart late in the game to steal two points.

MacKinnon's 31 goals and 75 points are each fourth-most in the NHL. Rookie defenseman Cale Makar has 12 goals and 41 points in 45 games while Andre Burakovsky and Mikko Rantanen each have 17 goals. Kadri is second with 19 goals.

Goaltender Pavel Francouz is the likely starter for the Avs on Sunday after Philipp Grubauer made 31 saves in the victory in Columbus. Francouz made 27 saves in a losing effort against the Wild in December at Pepsi Center.

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