Avalanche at Wild
While the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild struggle to score goals, the former is also having difficulting keeping players on the ice. The Avalanche visit Minnesota in a Northwest Division clash on Thursday and will be without top defenseman Erik Johnson, who suffered a head injury in Colorado's 2-1 overtime loss to Calgary on Monday. Colorado has lost three straight and its offense has suffered without captain and reigning Calder Trophy winner Gabriel Landeskog, who has missed the last seven games with a concussion.
While the Avalanche have scored 23 goals in 11 games, the Wild have 27 in 13 contests after their 2-1 loss at Vancouver on Tuesday. Prize free-agent acquisition Zach Parise has held up his end of the bargain - although he came at quite a price ($98 million for 13 years) - with a team-leading six goals, but has only one in his last eight games. The Wild, though, are 4-1-0 against non-playoff teams from 2011-12, including a 4-2 victory over Colorado in the season opener.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Altitude (Colorado), FSN North, FSN Wisconsin (Minnesota)
ABOUT THE AVALANCHE (4-6-1): Colorado played the third period Monday without eight regulars and to add insult to the injuries and illness, the Avalanche do not appear willing to come to terms with holdout Ryan O'Reilly. The team's leading scorer from a season ago could wind up on the trading block despite the Avalanche being more than $18 million under the salary cap, according to CapGeek.com. Others out of the lineup include defenseman Ryan Wilson (ankle) and gritty forward Cody McLeod, who suffered an unknown injury Monday. Defenseman Matt Hunwick (torso) and forward John Mitchell (flu) are expected back Thursday. Colorado owns the NHL's worst power play at 3-for-37 - 1-for-16 in its last four games.
ABOUT THE WILD (6-6-1): Parise is frustrated over Minnesota's offensive struggles. "I don't know why, just home and road we're having a hard time scoring right now. … We've got to be a little more aggressive – a little passive sometimes in the offensive zone," he told NHL.com after Tuesday's game. Devin Setoguchi has two goals in his last three games, but Dany Heatley hasn't recorded a point in his last eight contests. Niklas Backstrom is expected to start in goal. Darcy Kuemper made 28 saves in his NHL debut Tuesday after being recalled from Houston of the American Hockey League. He took the place of Josh Harding, who told the team he is feeling a little "off" because of the medication he takes to battle multiple sclerosis.
1. The Avalanche are the only team without a goal from a defenseman.
2. Colorado RW PA Parenteau has a team-leading seven goals and six points in his last five games.
3. Minnesota is 8-for-50 - and 3-for-26 in its last eight games - on the power play.