Avalanche-Wild Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 13, 2013
While the Minnesota Wild have mostly thrived in home games, they let their latest one slip away. The Wild would appear to have a good chance to bounce back as they open a home-and-home set against the Colorado Avalanche, who hope to avoid an eighth consecutive road loss Thursday night. Minnesota (13-10-2) had strung together a season-best four straight home wins before falling 2-1 to Anaheim on Tuesday. The Wild led 1-0 after 20 minutes and outshot the Ducks 22-7 over the first two periods before giving up both goals in the third, including the game-winner with 3:04 to play. "I think it's just extremely important for us to regroup from this," said coach Mike Yeo, whose team dropped to 9-3-1 at home. "You have to regroup and come back to the rink with the right mindset after emotional wins, and you have to do the same thing after an emotional loss. "Certainly this one stings right now, but nobody is going to feel sorry for us. I know Colorado's not going to feel sorry for us." The Wild have scored one power-play goal in five straight games and seven of eight, but they went 1 for 5 on the man advantage Tuesday and failed to capitalize on nearly two full minutes of 5-on-3 in the first period. "We got to work on our power play," Yeo said. "We look like a power play that hasn't had any practice time, and that's because we haven't had any practice time. We've got to address that." Minnesota could pick up the pace against Colorado (10-11-4), which has killed an NHL-worst 66.0 percent of its opponents' power-play chances on the road. Since a 4-3 shootout win in St. Paul on Feb. 14, the Avalanche have gone 0-4-3 in road games and have been held to 10 goals over the last six. Colorado was handed a 4-2 season-opening loss Jan. 19 in its first trip to Minnesota. The Avalanche had scored a combined nine goals in back-to-back wins over Chicago and San Jose before suffering their fourth shutout of the season, 4-0 to Edmonton on Tuesday. Colorado went 0 for 2 on the power play and Semyon Varlamov stopped 27 shots. "After two emotional wins, we have to feed off them and keep it going," captain Gabriel Landeskog told the league's official website. "But we let them get away with a 2-0 lead and then 3-0, and then it's an uphill battle. There are no easy teams in this league and we know that. We just have to put this one behind us." While Varlamov has gone 0-7-2 with a 3.44 goals-against average on the road, he's 4-1-0 with a 1.61 GAA over five starts against the Wild. He did, however, allow all four goals in that Jan. 19 defeat. Niklas Backstrom won that game but lost to the Avalanche last month, one of only three regulation losses in his last 12 starts. He has a 1.98 GAA in that span, and a 1.77 mark in his last nine games versus Colorado as he's gone 7-1-1. Minnesota forward Jason Zucker had to be helped off the ice after getting elbowed in the head Tuesday, leaving his status for this game unknown. The Wild signed free agent Brett Clark on Wednesday. The veteran defenseman, who previously spent six seasons in Colorado, blocked 199 shots with Tampa Bay in 2011-12 to rank second in the league. He isn't expected to play Thursday but could suit up when Minnesota and Colorado square off Saturday at Pepsi Center.
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