NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Monday, December 26th
(All times Eastern)
Colorado Avalanche (18-17-1) at Minnesota Wild (20-11-5), 6 p.m.
(Sports Network) - A pair of Northwest Division teams heading in opposite
directions will meet tonight in St. Paul, as the sliding Wild host the surging
Avalanche at Xcel Energy Center.
The Wild have lost their last six games (0-4-2) and enter tonight just one
point ahead of Vancouver for the division lead. On the other hand, Colorado is
eight points behind Minnesota in the Northwest, but the Avalanche have won
four straight and five of their last six contests.
Minnesota, which had won seven in a row before its current skid, is currently
mired in a major offensive slump. The Wild have scored just three times in the
last four games and have seven total goals during the six-game slide.
The Wild's last three losses came on the road, but Minnesota is playing three
of its next four games in St. Paul, where the club is 10-4-3 this season.
Minnesota was dealt a 4-1 loss by Edmonton in the finale of a three-game road
trip on Thursday. Jordan Eberle scored a pair of goals to lift the Oilers to
the easy win at Rexall Place.
Dany Heatley's third-period score was the sole offense for the Wild, while
Niklas Backstrom was tagged for all four goals on 31 shots.
"It's very apparent that we've got a long way to go. And what we've got to
understand is the league gets tougher," said Wild head coach Mike Yeo.
Minnesota played without defenseman Greg Zanon (upper body) in the last game
and fellow blueliner Clayton Stoner suffered a groin injury in Thursday's
contest. Both players are questionable for tonight.
After wrapping a perfect four-game homestand, the Avalanche will try to stay
hot on the road tonight. Colorado has won eight straight as the host, but the
Avs are 0-8-1 in their last nine road games. The club is just 6-8-1 as the
guest this year and hasn't won away from Denver since Oct. 22 in Chicago.
The Avalanche earned an overtime decision in their most recent outing, as Matt
Duchene scored 3:38 into the extra session to lift Colorado to the 2-1 win.
Ryan O'Reilly netted the other goal for the Avalanche, who set the franchise's
longest win streak since the team moved from Quebec City to Denver.
"We were aware of the streak, coach told us about it before the game," Duchene
said. "We're very appreciative, accounting for all the great teams that have
been here before."
Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 29 saves, including four in the extra period, for
the win, Colorado's fifth in six games with all six contests being decided by
Avs forward David Jones has missed the last five games with a groin injury and
he is questionable for tonight.
The Wild recorded a 1-0 home win over Colorado in the only meeting between the
clubs this year on Nov. 17. Backstrom picked up the shutout in that victory,
Minnesota's fourth straight in the series. The Wild have taken the last three
encounters in St. Paul.
12/26 10:44:23 ET