AVALANCHE (15-5-0) at COYOTES (14-4-3)
TV: ALT, FS-A
Last 10: Colorado 6-4-0; Phoenix 8-1-1
Season series: This is the first of three games this season between Colorado and Phoenix. The Coyotes, who went 2-0-1 against the Avalanche last season, will play in Denver on Tuesday, Dec. 10 and Friday, Feb. 28.
Big story: This one will be a battle of the home-strong Coyotes vs. the road-accomplished Avalanche. Phoenix hasn't lost a home game in regulation this season (9-0-1) and can extend that streak to 11 on Thursday, a streak that would match a club record set in 1998-99, when ties were counted in the standings. Colorado is 6-2 on the road this season after winning its first six away from Pepsi Center.
Avalanche: Colorado's 5-1 win against Chicago on Tuesday night got it to the 15-win mark in a season faster then any team in franchise history. The Avs started the season with an opening six-game winning streak and won its first six road games. The Avs then lost three in a row before Thursday's convincing win against the Blackhawks.
The result against Chicago was more typical of the way Colorado has played this season under first-year coach Patrick Roy. Goalie Semyon Varlamov bounced back with 36 saves, and the scoring was balanced, with goals coming from five different players.
Roy confirmed Wednesday that Varlamov would be his starter against Phoenix, and he prepared his players for Thursday's game by stressing in Wednesday's practice the need for a strong offensive presence in front of the crease.
"We want to make sure that we do a better job around the net, picking up those rebounds," Roy said. "That's where we think this game is played."
Coyotes: A four-day hiatus from game action may not be ideal for Phoenix, which comes into the Colorado game winners of three of its past four games and carrying a 10-game point streak at home. Coach Dave Tippett said he and his players kept their focus throughout the break, though, and are determined to pick up where they left off Saturday, when they beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-3.
"You can spin [the break] either way," Tippett said. "We got some bumps and bruises, and that will help guys get through. But when things are going well, you want to keep playing."
Who's hot: Paul Stastny has points in six of his past seven games, with four goals and three assists over that span. ... Coyotes forward Radim Vrbata has seven points (one goal, six assists) in his past five games.
Injury report: The "bumps and bruises" Tippett referenced concern forward Lauri Korpikoski (upper body) and defensemen Zbynek Michalek (lower body) and Derek Morris (lower body), who are questionable for Thursday's game. ... Avalanche center Matt Duchene missed the Chicago game with an oblique injury, and Roy confirmed Wednesday that Duchene would not join the team for its two-game road trip. Defenseman Ryan Wilson (back) and forward Alex Tanguay (knee) are on injured reserve.
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