Preview: Avalanche at Coyotes
The Colorado Avalanche are not enjoying life without two of their top players as they visit the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday. Colorado has lost three straight (0-2-1) and four of its last five games after Friday's 2-1 setback to Dallas and with Mikko Rantanen and captain Gabriel Landeskog lost indefinitely because of lower-body injuries, it could get worse before it gets better for the Avalanche.
Colorado prevailed 3-2 on Oct. 12 in the first of three meetings this season behind Andre Burakovsky's goal at 3:29 of overtime. The Avalanche also got a boost that night from Pavel Francouz, who made 34 saves in his first NHL start and is expected to be in goal Saturday after Philipp Grubauer made 27 saves Friday. Arizona is 6-2-0 in its last eight games after Wednesday's 4-1 loss to Montreal came on the heels of a 3-1-0 road trip. “I think the road trip was pretty good to us, but we came home and got some humble pie,” Coyotes center Derek Stepan, who hasn't recorded a point in five games and is a club-worst minus-5, told reporters.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, Altitude 2 (Colorado), FS Arizona Plus
ABOUT THE AVALANCHE (8-3-2): The absence of his linemates hasn't affected the play of Nathan MacKinnon (club-most 18 points), who scored his team-leading eighth goal Friday and has recorded a point in every game this season. Rookie defenseman Cale Makar shares the club lead in assists with MacKinnon after recording his 10th Friday. Nazem Kadri (five goals) has an assist in each of the last two contests - Friday's was the 200th of his career - since joining MacKinnon on the top line.
ABOUT THE COYOTES (7-4-1): Conor Garland (team-high six goals) is due to hit the scoresheet as he's done so in every other game in his last 10 contests and was pointless Wednesday. Nick Schmaltz (four goals) leads the club with 11 points but hasn't recorded one in two games. Darcy Kuemper (5-3-0, 1.87 goals-against average, .933 save percentage this season) is 3-1-2, 2.09, .917 in seven games (six starts) versus Colorado but did not play the Oct. 12 contest.
1. MacKinnon's point streak is the longest to start a season since Henrik Zetterberg recorded a 17-game run to begin the 2007-08 campaign.
2. Arizona C Brad Richardson (upper body) is close to returning, according to coach Rick Tocchet, after missing the last three games.
3. Colorado C Colin Wilson (undisclosed) missed his second straight contest Friday and is questionable to play on the two-game road trip that wraps up Tuesday in Dallas.
PREDICTION: Coyotes 3, Avalanche 2