Canadiens at Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche will hit a pair of major milestones Wednesday, when they play the 3,000th game in franchise history and also the 1,500th at home dating to their days in Quebec. The Avalanche will be focused on another round number as they go for their 10th consecutive win at Pepsi Center in a matchup against the Montreal Canadiens.
A victory will match the longest home winning streak in history for Colorado, which has played nine of its last 10 on the road. It's ironic that the contest comes against the Canadiens, who snapped the Avalanche's 10-game overall winning streak with a 4-2 home triumph on Jan. 23. While Colorado is sitting just outside the playoff picture in the Western Conference, the Canadiens are 12 points back in the race for the second wild card in the East as they begin a four-game road trip. It will mark the one-year anniversary behind Montreal's bench for coach Claude Julien, who said he's "more concerned right now with turning our good performances into wins."
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, TSN2, RDS (Montreal), Altitude (Colorado)
ABOUT THE CANADIENS (22-26-7): Phillip Danault practiced Monday for the first time since taking a slap shot off the head on Jan. 13, and while he has yet to be cleared from his concussion, he's accompanying the team on the road trip. “I think it’s encouraging for him,” Julien told reporters. "He’s been skating for a week and gotten better to the point where they’re allowing him to practice now.” Brendan Gallagher has scored four times in his last eight games, including a tally in the win over Colorado last month.
ABOUT THE AVALANCHE (30-21-4): Leading scorer Nathan MacKinnon, sidelined for the last six games due to the shoulder injury he suffered on Jan. 30, practiced with the team Tuesday for the first time since getting hurt - albeit in a non-contact jersey. "He's coming along," coach Jared Bednar, who termed the team's 3-3-0 record without MacKinnon as being "pretty good," told reporters. "But the problem with it is, it’s not good enough. We’re losing ground every day in the playoff race.” Colorado is 1-for-18 on the power play over its last five contests.
1. Avalanche G Semyon Varlamov brings a 5-0-1 career record against Montreal into Wednesday's start.
2. Canadiens C Jonathan Drouin recorded a goal and two assists versus Colorado last month but has the same total in seven games since.
3. Avalanche RW Sven Andrighetto (leg), LW Blake Comeau (upper body) and D Mark Barberio (lower body) did not practice again Tuesday.