Series (Game 3 of 6)

Minnesota leads 4-2

Game 1: Saturday, November 27th
Game 2: Thursday, December 23rd
Game 3: Friday, January 14th
Game 4: Thursday, February 3rd
Game 5: Wednesday, February 9th
Game 6: Tuesday, March 8th

Avalanche 4

(23-16-6, 52 pts)

Wild 1

(21-18-5, 47 pts)

8:00 PM ET, January 14, 2011

Xcel Energy Center, Saint Paul, Minnesota

1 2 3 T
COL 2 1 14
MIN 0 0 11

C. Anderson (Avalanche - G): Saves: 32, Save Pct.: .970

M. Hejduk (Avalanche - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

A. Brunette (Wild - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Avalanche-Wild Preview


The Minnesota Wild are struggling to score while also looking for stability in net. The Colorado Avalanche have similar concerns.

The Northwest Division rivals try to rebound from lopsided road losses when they meet at the Xcel Energy Center for the first time this season Friday night.

After outscoring opponents 15-7 during a season-high four-game winning streak Jan. 2-8, Minnesota (21-17-5) has scored once while losing its last two.

The Wild are 0 for 10 on the power play in the last three games.

Defensively, Minnesota received a boost from Jose Theodore, who posted a 1.75 goals-against average during the perfect start to 2011. The veteran, though, has yielded four scores in each of the last two games.

"Those were the ones (Theodore) was gobbling up," coach Todd Richards said following Tuesday's 5-1 loss at Nashville. "We went all last week, and he had about 100 of those that either hit him, or he caught it and the play was done."

Theodore has started the last six games in place of Niklas Backstrom (groin). However, Theodore did not practice Thursday due to a groin injury, and the start Friday will go to rookie Anton Khudobin.

The 24-year-old Russian, called up from the AHL last week, has three career appearances and stopped four of five shots late in Tuesday's defeat. Khudobin will try to help the Wild avoid their first three-game losing streak since an 0-3-2 skid Nov. 27-Dec. 4.

He will take on an Avalanche club that is averaging 2.0 goals during a 3-6-2 stretch. Colorado was shut out for the third time during that span with Wednesday's 4-0 loss at Chicago.

"Early in that game, we might have put one in and it would have been a different game, but we didn't," said All-Star center Matt Duchene, who has three goals and an assist in eight games against Minnesota.

The Avalanche (22-16-6) are converting nearly 20 percent of their power plays, but they are 1 for 28 over the last eight games.

Minnesota has killed all 19 penalties over the last seven games.

With his club ranking among the worst in the NHL with a 3.23 GAA, Avs coach Joe Sacco could use a more efficient offense and better special teams play in front of Craig Anderson and Peter Budaj.

Anderson is 1-5-1 with a 3.27 GAA in his last seven starts, but the Avalanche have scored 11 times in those games, getting shut out twice and scoring one goal in two of those contests.

In seven starts versus Minnesota, Anderson is 1-4-2 with a 2.78 GAA.

Budaj, who has surrendered four goals in three of his last four starts, has turned away 46 of 50 shots against the Wild this season. He beat Minnesota 7-4 on Nov. 27 and stopped all 18 shots he faced after Anderson was pulled in the second period of a 3-1 loss Dec. 23.

In Colorado's last visit to the Xcel Energy Center on Dec. 21, 2009, Anderson recorded 28 saves in a 4-3 win as the Avalanche snapped a four-game skid as the visitor in this matchup.

Minnesota is 15-5-2 against Colorado since the beginning of the 2007-08 season.