AVALANCHE (17-6-0) at WILD (15-7-4)
TV: ALT, FS-N, FS-WI
Last 10: Colorado 5-5-0, Minnesota 6-3-1
Season series: This is the first of five games between the teams. The Minnesota Wild has a three-game winning streak against the Colorado Avalanche dating back to last season, when it went 4-0-1 in five games.
Big story: No doubt these head-to-head games will play a part in how the Central Division playoff race shakes out. Colorado and Minnesota enter Friday with 34 points apiece, a total matched by the Phoenix Coyotes, who defeated the Wild 3-1 on Wednesday. All are in playoff spots for now with the Avalanche holding the third spot in the Central and the other two the Western Conference wild cards.
Avalanche: Colorado got one center back and lost another Wednesday. Matt Duchene was considered a game-time decision at the morning skate, but he played in the Avalanche's 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues. He originally wasn't expected to go until Friday, but Paul Stastny was scratched due to back spasms, leaving Duchene with a job to fill.
“When [Duchene] saw that Paul was not capable of playing he said, ‘I’m going to go,’” coach Patrick Roy told the Avalanche's website. “Obviously, I would love to see Matt have a full practice before playing [Wednesday], but unfortunately things like this happen, and you have no choice then.
“He did well. He protected the puck well in the [offensive] zone.”
Wild: Minnesota came close to getting out of November undefeated at home. The Wild had six wins in the books, but then Zach Parise got hurt using his left foot to block a shot in a 3-0 road loss to the St. Louis Blues on Monday. Originally expected to miss 2-to-3 weeks with a contusion on the foot, Parise skated Wednesday morning but was not ready to go. The inspiration wasn't enough as a hungry Coyotes team caught the Wild flatfooted early and snapped a three-game losing streak on Xcel Energy Center ice.
“The first 10 games of the year, we were concerned with getting pucks deep and managing the puck and playing the right way and being a physical team,” forward Matt Cooke told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “We didn’t do that [Wednesday] until the second period.”
Who's hot: Patrick Bordeleau scored Colorado's lone goal on Wednesday. It was his third of the season, a career high. ... Before going down to injury, Parise had been held off the board only twice in November.
Injury report: Stastny remains day-to-day, while Ryan Wilson (back) and Alex Tanguay (knee) could come off injured reserve in the next few weeks. ... All bets are off on Parise's return since he skated way ahead of previous estimates, but the Wild lost forward Mikael Granlund to a concussion Wednesday, placing him on IR.
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