It’s amazing how one loss can seem like a pretty big setback. The Minnesota Wild saw their winning streak come to an abrupt halt with a 5-3 loss in Arizona on Thursday. They’re still in third place in the playoff picture, but losing to the worst team in the league for the second time this season isn’t exactly a confidence-booster.
Getting right back on the horse, the Wild (36-21-7) are in Colorado for a Friday-night affair against an Avalanche team trying to get back into the playoff picture. The Avalanche (34-24-5) have 73 points, just one point outside the second wild card spot. The Wild have their eyes on second place, or at least maintaining their current position; they’re four points behind second place and two points ahead of Dallas in the first wild card.
This is the third meeting between the long-time division rivals. Each team has a home win so far. After Friday, the Wild still have four of 15 back-to-back sets remaining. They’re 4-5-1 on the second night this season. They’ve won five of their past six games; the Avalanche have won the first two games of their four-game homestand.
The Wild are 12-4-1 in their last 17 games facing Colorado, with six shutouts.
Expect to see Devan Dubnyk in the net after Alex Stalock got the nod the previous night in Arizona. Dubnyk is a 16-9-1 goaltender when facing the Avalanche, his most wins against any NHL team.
Charlie Coyle turns 26 years old on Friday. Maybe he can combine his birthday and Avalanche success. He has eight career goals against Colorado in 25 games, though he’s scoreless against them this season.
Colorado center Nathan MacKinnon sets the pace with his 71 points, leading in goals (29) and assists (42) as well. Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog each have 20 goals this season.
It’s no surprise that Eric Staal leads the team with two goals and an assist in the two games against Colorado this year. Jason Zucker also had three points (two assists) in the season series. The recently-hot line with Staal, Zucker and Mikael Granlund was held off the scoresheet in the Arizona loss, but they’ve scored oodles of points in the four games prior. The shutout for the line comes on the same day Staal was named the NHL’s First Star of February.
The trio is still 1-2-3 on the team in points.
On special teams, the Wild’s road power play ranks sixth in the NHL (20 for 90), while Colorado’s home power play is fifth (30 for 120). However, Colorado has the best home penalty kill in the league at 92.9 percent, allowing just seven goals on 98 attempts on home ice.
Mikko Koivu, with a goal in each of the past two games, leads the team with 44 points in 66 games against the Avalanche. Matt Cullen, the oldest player in the NHL, had one of the other goals in the Arizona game, giving him four points in his last six games.
Under milestone watch: Nino Niederreiter is sitting on 199 career points and 99 career assists.
Total man games lost: 111
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