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TV: Altitude, Fox Sports Arizona PLUS
Last 10: Phoenix 4-4-2; Colorado 6-4-0
Season series: This is the third and final game between the Phoenix Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche. They split the first two, with the Avalanche winning at Phoenix on Nov. 21 and the Coyotes winning in Denver on Dec. 10.
Big story: Colorado rookie center Nathan MacKinnon comes into the game on a nine-game point streak, which has him a leading candidate for the NHL's Calder Trophy, awarded to the league's top rookie. The 18-year-old leads all rookies in goals (22), assists (23) and points (45); Tyler Johnson of the Tampa Bay Lightning is second in goals (17) and points (37), and Torey Krug of the Boston Bruins is second in assists (22).
MacKinnon has seven goals and 16 assists in his past 12 games.
Coyotes: Phoenix lost 3-2 in a shootout at the Winnipeg Jets in each team's first game back from the break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
The Coyotes trail the Dallas Stars by one point for the second of two wild-card spots in the Western Conference, and coach Dave Tippett said he recognizes it's going to be a dogfight to get into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"Coming out of the break, we wanted to make sure that we came out with energy," Tippett said. "For the most part, I didn't mind our game.
"There was lots of urgency and intensity. There were some turnovers I didn't like in the game -- those are things that we have to continue to clean up. But the will we played with and the desperation, that's going to have to be there every night."
After playing in Denver the Coyotes return to Jobing.com Arena for a three-game homestand.
Avalanche: Colorado surrendered four unanswered goals Wednesday in a 6-4 loss to the Los Angeles Kings at Pepsi Center in its first game after the Olympic break.
"I don't think that [the Kings] did anything different, but I think that we started making bad decisions with the puck and even without the puck," captain Gabriel Landeskog said. "In the [defensive] zone we kind of got hemmed in a little bit and didn't box out. "[The Kings are] a good team, but it definitely feels like we should have won this one."
Colorado will be without defenseman Erik Johnson, but center Maxime Talbot is likely to return after missing Wednesday's game so he could be with his fiancée for the birth of their child. Johnson will serve the second of his two-game suspension for slashing against the New York Islanders' Frans Nielsen on Feb. 8.
The Avalanche on Thursday announced it has signed penalty-kill specialist Marc-Andre Cliche to a two-year contract extension through the 2015-16 season. The center leads the Avs in 2:35 of short-handed ice time per game after being claimed off waivers from Los Angeles prior to the season on Sept. 22, 2013.
Who's hot: Coyotes forward Radim Vrbata has a point in four of five games. He has three goals and an assist in that span. … Avalanche center Matt Duchene has four points (two goals) his past two games and 11 points in his past 10.
Injury report: Phoenix reports a healthy lineup. … Colorado left wing Alex Tanguay (hip) is out for the season following surgery Friday, Feb. 21, and forward David Van Der Gulik (head) remains on Injured Reserve. Center John Mitchell (groin) is day-to-day, but coach Patrick Roy said he expects him to play vs. Phoenix.
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