Preview: Blue Jackets at Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche - or at least what's left of them - try to ride the momentum of a record-breaking offensive explosion when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday. Colorado snapped a five-game slide after scoring a franchise-record six goals in eight minutes of the second period in a 9-4 victory over Nashville on Thursday without No. 1 goaltender Philipp Grubauer, while defenseman Nikita Zadorov left the game with an upper-body injury.
Nathan MacKinnon, who is already missing linemates Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog (out indefinitely with lower-body injuries), also departed Thursday's contest (upper body) but coach Jared Bednar said it was for precautionary reasons. Grubauer (lower body) won't play Saturday, so 29-year-old rookie Pavel Francouz will start consecutive games for the first time in his career. Columbus also snapped a five-game losing streak in its last contest - a 3-2 victory at Arizona on Thursday. "It's good for them to get a result," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella told reporters. "There's been some games this year when we didn't."
TV: 9 p.m. ET, FS Ohio (Columbus), Altitude (Colorado)
ABOUT THE BLUE JACKETS (6-7-3): Rookie center Emil Bemstrom on Thursday scored career goal No. 1 in his 16th game. Gustav Nyquist, who signed a four-year, $22 million contract during the offseason, recorded a goal and two assists Thursday for his first multi-point contest of the season. Joonas Korpisalo (6-6-1, 3.05 goals-against average, .896 save percentage) snapped a four-start losing streak with 30 saves versus Arizona and is 2-0, 2.49, .912 in two games against Colorado.
ABOUT THE AVALANCHE (9-5-2): Colorado is counting on Joonas Donskoi to help fill some of the scoring void left by Rantanen and Landeskog and he has responded with eight goals after recording his first career hat trick Thursday. MacKinnon leads the club with nine goals and 22 points, and has hit the scoresheet in 14 of 16 games. Defenseman Cale Makar, an early Calder Trophy favorite, leads all rookies with 15 points and is averaging 19 minutes, 15 seconds of ice time.
1. Columbus F Riley Nash (one goal, five points) is the only Blue Jacket with a plus rating (plus-1).
2. The Avalanche went 2-for-6 on the power play Thursday after going 1-for-19 in their previous four games while Columbus is 8-for-8 on the penalty kill in its last three contests.
3. The Blue Jackets have won three straight meetings, including both encounters last season by a combined 11-5 with Pierre Luc-Dubois scoring three goals.
PREDICTION: Avalanche 3, Blue Jackets 2