Colorado Avalanche web staff contributed to this story.
AVALANCHE (23-10-1) at KINGS (24-8-4)
TV: NHLN-US, Altitude, RDS, Fox Sports West
Last 10: Colorado 5-4-1; Los Angeles 8-2-0
Season series: This is the second of three between the Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings. The last meeting, Nov. 23 at Staples Center, saw Semyon Varlamov and Ben Scrivens involved in a scoreless deadlock that extended all the way into overtime. Jamie McGinn finally delivered a 1-0 win for the Avalanche when he scored 2:32 into the extra period.
Big story: A similar result Saturday would hardly be unexpected. Los Angeles is first in the NHL with a 1.86 team goals-against average, while Colorado was tied for sixth at 2.32. Scrivens and Martin Jones have been virtually impenetrable for the Kings, with Jones 7-0-0 with an 0.85 goals-against average and .971 save percentage to begin his career.
Avalanche: It's another opportunity for Colorado to string together back-to-back wins for the first time since it swept a home-and-home from the Minnesota Wild to end November. The Avalanche is still in solid position as it begins a three-game road trip, five points up on the ninth seed in the Western Conference.
Special teams keyed the Avalanche to a 4-2 win against the visiting Edmonton Oilers on Thursday. Tyson Barrie's power-play goal evened the score early in the second period, and a shorthanded goal by Maxime Talbot with 1:32 left in the second proved decisive.
Matt Duchene then scored an empty-netter with 1.1 seconds left to ice the win and give him 10 points (four goals, six assists) in his past five games.
"There is always a key moment in a game, and that short-handed goal by Talbot on an outstanding play by Cliche at the blue line and a nice pass as well, I think that was the turning point of the game," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "That gave us a 3-2 lead going into the third, and it’s a lot different then being tied or behind."
Kings: The Elias Sports Bureau reports Jones is the third NHL goalie to win his first seven starts, joining Bob Froese with the 1982-83 Philadelphia Flyers and Wayne Thomas with the 1972-73 Montreal Canadiens. Froese holds the all-time record with eight, a mark Jones could tie if he gets the nod Saturday.
The Kings have a pair of victories to start a four-game homestand that concludes Monday against the Dallas Stars. Their balanced scoring continued in a 4-1 win Thursday against the San Jose Sharks, as Jeff Carter and Dwight King each scored their 10th goals of the season, and Tyler Toffoli had his ninth. Jones came within 2:10 of his fourth shutout and also picked up an assist.
"It's fun, but again I've said it 100 times here: It's a start," Jones said. "I just want to make sure we close out these last two games [on the homestand] and keep working, keep doing the things that have made me successful."
Who's hot: Duchene has four goals and six assists in his past five games for the Avalanche, and Talbot has two goals and two assists in his past four games. Colorado's Tyson Barrie extended his point streak Thursday to three games (2g/1a), tying his career-long streak set Feb. 14 to 18, 2013. ... King has three goals and three assists in his past four games and Carter has three goals and five assists in his past five games for the Kings to support Jones on his impressive run.
Injury report: Colorado will certainly be without forward Alex Tanguay (knee/hip), but defenseman Ryan Wilson (back) could return to the lineup, according to Roy. Wilson is fully healed from the injury and was activated from injured reserve Dec. 14, but Roy wanted Wilson to improve his conditioning before he played in a game. ... Los Angeles is without goalie Jonathan Quick (groin), defenseman Willie Mitchell (upper body) and forward Colin Fraser (concussion).
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