Season series -- First meeting of six for a pair of teams running right on top of each other in the Northwest Division. The Wild have taken five of six in each of the last two seasons, going 13-2-2 in the last 17 overall meetings. They also have a three-game winning streak at Pepsi Center, the last two of those by 1-0 scores. The Wild have three shutouts over a 5-0-1 stretch in Denver.
Big story -- After winning four in a row, the Avs have dropped a pair of games and now have to stave off a bigger slide with one of the hottest road teams in the NHL coming to town. Minnesota has won six of seven away from Xcel Energy Center and managed to stop a two-game slump of its own with a win over Nashville on Friday. The teams form two-thirds of a three-team struggle atop the Northwest Division along with the Canucks.
Wild -- Friday's matinee with the Predators was a bit out of character for the Wild in some ways, less so in others. They had built a reputation for relying on the fourth-best power play in the NHL a little too much, but not against the Predators. They scored five 5-on-5 goals in their 5-2 win, thanks to a big boost from Martin Havlat, who scored a pair and picked up an assist. It was the first time the Wild scored five even-strength goals in a game since they did it to the Maple Leafs on January 7, 2009, a 6-1 win.
"Everybody played well tonight," said Havlat, who was a plus-3 along with Marek Zidlicky and linemates Kyle Brodziak and Matt Cullen.
What might not have been so odd was this outburst coming in a game versus the Preds, against whom the Wild hold a 5-2-0 record in their last seven games at home and Havlat has 34 points in 34 career games.
Avalanche -- The Avalanche played the only NHL game on American Thanksgiving up in Edmonton and turned in a turkey, going down 2-0 in the first four minutes, then pulling even again only to have the game taken away when Taylor Hall scored with 29 seconds left in regulation to pull out a 3-2 win for the Oilers.
"We didn't have a good start to the game," coach Joe Sacco said. "We had a few guys that weren't ready when the puck dropped and that cost us a couple of goals. You certainly don't want to give up a goal in the last minute of the game."
Who's hot -- Before they hit the two-game bump, the Avs had scored 19 goals in four straight wins. Matt Duchene has three goals in his last four games. … Havlat has 11 points in his last seven games for the Wild.
Injury report -- Avs goalie Craig Anderson got a game in coming off his knee injury, then proceeded to suffer a groin injury his second game back. He's currently being listed as day-to-day. Jason Bacashihua was called in to back up Peter Budaj. Defenseman Adam Foote is out indefinitely with a leg injury suffered Wednesday against Vancouver.
Minnesota winger Guillaume Latendresse underwent surgery Wednesday to repair a torn labrum and bilateral sports hernia. A late-season return would be seen as a bonus. Forward Chuck Kobasew (groin) has been out nine games but returned to practice Tuesday. Zidlicky missed Wednesday's game with a leg injury but bounced back nicely on Friday with a goal and two assists.
Stat pack -- Before Friday's flurry, the Wild had scored only 13 goals in their last eight home games, and hadn't scored five since Oct. 19, a 6-2 home win over the Canucks. … In eight of the Avs' nine regulation losses, they've scored two goals or fewer. … Budaj, handling most of the goaltending duties with Anderson out, has allowed three goals in each of his last six appearances, and is 3-3-0 in that stretch. Budaj is 1-2-1 in his last four starts against the Wild, but has a 1.44 goals-against average. … On the other hand, Minnesota's expected Saturday starter, Niklas Backstrom, is 14-3-2 with a 2.10 GAA and two shutouts against the Avs.
Puck drop -- "That's the Marty of old with speed like that and coming down making plays. He makes a move and gets it to the net. … He's been playing well the last while. We can be a really good team when we get him going." -- Wild defenseman Nick Schultz on Havlat's eye-opening performance Friday