It’s Black Friday, so it must mean the Minnesota Wild will host a hockey game at Xcel Energy Center. This time around, they welcome a long-time division rival in the Colorado Avalanche.
A valuable two points are on the line for the two teams tied at 23 points each with the Wild (10-8-3) and Avalanche (11-8-1) trying to claw their way up in the division ranks. The Wild are 5-1-1 overall in their recent stretch and are 2-3-0 against the Central Division so far this season. They’ve played a lot of games against the Eastern Conference and other divisions, but now they start a stretch of three straight games facing divisional opponents.
The Wild face Colorado for the first time this season; they went 3-2-0 against the Avs last season including three straight wins. The Wild earned points in 12 of the last 15 meetings. They’ve outscored the Avalanche 46-22 since Oct. 9, 2014.
Colorado comes in having won three of four games overall, however.
Nino Niederreiter still rides his career-long streaks: A five-game goal streak, four-game power-play goal streak and seven-game point streak (6-2—8). His goal streak is one game off the longest goal streak in club history (Brian Rolston, Jan. 21 to Feb. 5, 2008). Niederreiter has scored 11 points in his 12 games back from the ankle sprain.
Mikael Granlund comes in scoring a pair of goals in each of the last two games. He has a five-game point streak (4-5—9). Both Granlund and Niederreiter earned goals last game when they tipped in Mikko Koivu shots. Koivu hasn’t scored a goal in 12 games, but he has six assists on his four-game streak. He also has seven of his 10 assists this year on the power play.
The Wild’s power play has been red-hot the past few games, scoring seven goals in the last four games, including going 2-for-3 last game in Buffalo. Their power play ranks 9th in the NHL (15-for-68). Meanwhile, Colorado’s penalty kill on the road has allowed 16 goals on 51 kills, ranking last in the league. The Wild’s home penalty kill has allowed just two goals in 29 tries – the best in the league.
Charlie Coyle is two games back from his injury and has three assists this season still looking for his first goal. Kyle Quincey faces his former team, having played 154 games with the Avalanche over the span of three seasons from 2009-12. Daniel Winnik racked up 44 points in 143 games with Colorado over two seasons (2010-12). Christ Stewart was a 2006 draft pick of Colorado.
For the Avalanche, Gabriel Landeskog leads with 20 points (10-10—20) in 29 games versus the Wild in his career. Nathan MacKinnon has 10 points in 18 games against them; he leads the team with 25 points this season (7-18—25). Landeskog leads the team in goals with nine.
Jersey note: The Wild will wear their road white jerseys on home ice for the game.
Zach Parise (microdiscectomy surgery), 21 games
Total man games lost: 56
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