Sign in with your NHL account:
  • Submit
  • Or
  • Sign in with Google
Colorado Avalanche Logo and Header
Colorado
Avalanche
32-45-5
Minnesota
Wild
40-33-9
SO
26 SOG
29 SOG
1st2nd3rdOTsoT
COL ()
MIN ()
  • Preview
  • Watch
  • Ice Tracker
  • Boxscore
  • Recap
  • photos (15)
game preview

Avalanche-Wild Preview

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 2:49 AM

Associated Press

Share with your Friends


Avalanche-Wild Preview
Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild

Usually their biggest strength, the Minnesota Wild's defensive play has become unreliable at the wrong time and is threatening to keep them from a third straight postseason berth.

Facing an offensively challenged Northwest Division rival might help them get back on track as they host the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night.

After allowing an average of 2.29 goals through its first 59 contests, Minnesota (32-29-8) has given up 3.40 per game in its last 10, losing eight and dropping into a 10th-place tie with St. Louis in the Western Conference.

The Blues handed the Wild their latest loss by scoring three power-play goals in the first 28:08 en route to a 5-3 win Sunday. Niklas Backstrom was pulled after two periods for Josh Harding, and the Wild cut into a 4-1 deficit with two goals in the third but couldn't get the equalizer.

"We need to be a bit more desperate out there," Backstrom told the team's official Web site. "We need to be hungry for the puck. It's like the playoffs out there. We have to make it now, or, soon, it's going to be too late."

Backstrom posted a 2.20 goals-against average through his first 50 starts and got a four-year, $24 million extension March 3. In his last nine appearances, however, he's 2-3-3 with a 3.46 GAA.

If Backstrom starts Tuesday, he would seem to have a good chance to bounce back against the Avalanche, which he's dominated in his career. His best effort during his slump came Thursday night when he made 40 saves in a 2-1 shootout loss in Denver to the Avalanche, and he's 10-2-2 with a 2.08 GAA in 14 games against the Avs.

He beat Colorado 2-0 with 33 saves on Jan. 4 at the Pepsi Center.

Colorado has climbed out of the West cellar despite dropping eight of its last 11, but has scored fewer than three goals eight times during that span.

Peter Budaj's goaltending has been one of the lone bright spots of late for the Avalanche (31-38-1), which could be headed for its first last-place finish since moving from Quebec for the 1995-96 season. Colorado is nine points behind the Wild, the next-closest team in the Northwest.

Budaj started the season 16-25-1 with a 3.03 GAA but has won three of his last four starts, allowing six goals. He shut out Minnesota over the final 49:45 of regulation in Thursday's win and stopped two shootout attempts to improve to 8-7-2 with a 2.77 GAA against the Wild.

Budaj followed with a 3-2 win Saturday night in Edmonton but sat the next night in Vancouver as Andrew Raycroft allowed three goals in the first 15:18 of a 4-2 defeat.

"Right now, it's playing for pride," said defenseman John-Michael Liles, who assisted on both Avalanche goals Sunday. "We're playing for pride and playing for each other, and that's all you can focus on right now. In the first period, we didn't have that mentality."

Minnesota is 7-1-2 in its last 10 regular-season meetings with Colorado.

2008-2009 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 17 '09COL 2 at MIN 3 - SOM. Zidlicky
Mar 12 '09MIN 1 at COL 2 - SOW. Wolski
Feb 11 '09COL 2 at MIN 3A. Miettinen
Jan 04 '09MIN 2 at COL 0O. Nolan
Dec 01 '08COL 6 at MIN 5P. Stastny
Nov 06 '08MIN 3 at COL 1B. Pouliot
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
R. Smyth71263258-956103
M. Hejduk71252853-131492
W. Wolski70142539-92623
P. Stastny45112536-92272
J. Liles64102636-132751
M. Svatos63141933-53261
T. Arnason6551722-131421
R. Salei6841721-47010
J. Leopold6461420-101811
C. McLeod6813518-213203
C. Stewart4510818-175401
T. Hensick5041418-11210
I. Laperriere6371017+312400
D. Tucker568614-136321
D. Jones408513-8811
B. Clark7121012-103201
J. Sakic1521012-6600
C. McCormick4411011+09200
B. Guite394610+62000
S. Hannan70088-122400
A. Foote42167-123001
D. Tjarnqvist37224+1800
B. Willsie34134-51000
L. Nycholat17011+2600
P. Dupuis8000-1400
K. Cumiskey6000-2000
M. Hendricks2000+0200
C. Durno2000+0000
D. Peltier1000+1000
M. Vernace1000+1000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
P. Budaj4919-26-213513322.87.899
A. Raycroft2612-12-0777163.15.892
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
M. Koivu70184462-16053
P. Bouchard67162844-41821
A. Miettinen70142842-32633
A. Brunette68172340-71672
O. Nolan47201535+11793
M. Zidlicky65112334-1564103
E. Belanger67122032-52033
M. Bergeron60111728+02852
B. Burns5981927-74542
K. Johnsson6912021+03000
S. Veilleux6912719-164001
J. Sheppard7041216-192801
C. Clutterbuck668513-56311
B. Pouliot375611+11821
M. Skoula6911011-11800
D. Fritsche394610-4610
N. Schultz702810-22700
K. Kolanos19336+31610
C. Gillies38246-21401
M. Gaborik6325+0010
P. Olvecky23224+1801
D. Boogaard50033+38700
E. Reitz31112-24100
C. Weller31112-34510
J. Scott10011-2900
T. Mojzis4011-1200
K. Foster2000+0200
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
N. Backstrom6031-20-713717272.38.921
J. Harding172-9-1284072.15.931
ColoradoAvalanche.com is the official Web site of the Colorado Avalanche. Colorado Avalanche and ColoradoAvalanche.com are trademarks of Colorado Avalanche, LLC. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2013 Colorado Avalanche Hockey Team, Inc. and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.