Series (Game 4 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

Wild 4

(27-19-5, 59 pts)

Avalanche 3

(25-20-6, 56 pts)

9:00 PM ET, February 3, 2011

Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado

1 2 3 T
MIN 2 1 14
COL 0 1 23

A. Brunette (Wild - LW): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

M. Hejduk (Avalanche - RW): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

P. Bouchard (Wild - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

Wild-Avalanche Preview


The Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild are separated by a point with both outside the top eight in the Western Conference.

After an All-Star break extended by an epic winter snowstorm, Colorado returns home looking to get back on track offensively when they face Minnesota in a key matchup Thursday night.

The Avalanche (25-19-6) had Tuesday's visit to St. Louis postponed because of the storm that affected much of the country, and they haven't played since a 5-2 loss to Phoenix last Wednesday -- their third defeat in four games. Colorado has scored a combined five goals in those defeats after totaling eight in two games before the slump.

Matt Duchene recorded his team-high 20th goal, but the All-Star center has scored only twice in his last seven.

"When we get back, we know what we have to do," said forward Paul Stastny, who has a goal and five assists in his last six games.

Craig Anderson made 25 saves against the Coyotes after Peter Budaj allowed two goals on nine shots in just under 14 minutes. Anderson beat the Wild 4-1 in the teams' last meeting Jan. 14, but was pulled for Budaj in a 3-1 loss Dec. 23.

Colorado set a season high for goals in a 7-4 victory Nov. 27 at the Pepsi Center, as Greg Maudlin had a career-best two goals and two assists.

Another matchup with the Wild may be just what the Avs need to get going offensively, as they averaged 4.0 goals in the three previous meetings.

Colorado, though, won't have Ryan O'Reilly for a sixth straight game due to a shoulder injury. Coach Joe Sacco said after the morning skate that he's "hopeful" the center will be ready soon, but he won't play against the Wild.

Though the Avalanche are tied for fifth in the NHL with 161 goals, Minnesota has been solid defensively of late.

The Wild (26-19-5) have won five of six, defeating Los Angeles 1-0 in a shootout Tuesday. They've outscored opponents 21-7 in that stretch and are 10th in the West with 57 points.

Niklas Backstrom earned his third shutout of the season with 27 saves and made a sprawling stop on the Kings' Jack Johnson in the shootout.

"He had me beat so I tried just to get something up there and got lucky," Backstrom said. "It hit my skate. You need those every now and then."

Backstrom has gone 3-1-0 with a 1.48 GAA during the six-game stretch, while rookie Anton Khudobin went 2-0-0 with a 0.50 GAA.

Jose Theodore, however, will start against his former team. The former Hart and Vezina Trophy winner is coming off a hip injury and hasn't played since Jan. 11.

Theodore is 2-5-1 with one tie and a 2.84 goals-against average against the Avalanche, whom he played for from 2006-08.

Matt Cullen scored twice and added an assist Dec. 23, but he has two goals since. Forward Martin Havlat and defenseman Brent Burns, who represented the Wild in the All-Star game, have combined for six goals and five assists in the last six contests.

Minnesota has been one of the league's best road teams of late, going 10-3-1 in its last 14. The Wild have been even better in Colorado in recent years, going 7-1-2 in their last 10 visits.