A late barrage in their last game got the Colorado Avalanche out of a scoring funk. The Arizona Coyotes are hoping a much-needed break can get them back on track.
The Coyotes return from a five-day layoff Thursday night to host an Avalanche team coming off one of its most impressive performances of the season.
After producing 12 goals over a 1-5-1 stretch, Colorado (4-7-1) recorded three in the final seven minutes to earn a 6-3 home win over slumping Calgary on Tuesday. Nathan MacKinnon netted the game-winner with 6:59 remaining and added two assists, while Matt Duchene scored twice after managing just one goal through the first 11 games.
The outburst also reversed a season-long trend of third-period failures for the Avalanche, who had been outscored 13-8 in the final 20 minutes coming in.
”We knew how we felt when we collapsed," MacKinnon said. "(Tuesday) it was different, more confidence. We just knew we were going to win this game. We thought we deserved it and we went and took it, so it definitely feels good.”
Jarome Iginla added two goals and an assist, leaving the former Flames captain five goals shy of 600.
Arizona (5-5-1) seeks a return to early-season form in its first outing since Friday’s 4-3 loss to visiting Vancouver, its sixth in eight games following a 3-0-0 start. A portion of those struggles came during an East Coast trip in which the Coyotes played five times in eight days.
"We’ve had some good practices, so hopefully that gets us out of the fatigue factor we were into and into a new stretch of the season where we can go back out and play well," coach Dave Tippett said.
The break enabled Martin Hanzal to get healthy after missing the previous two contests with a lower-body injury. The top-line center has 10 assists in nine games while often working with promising youngsters Max Domi and Anthony Duclair, each tied for the team lead with five goals.
Tippett is hoping the time off benefits Mike Smith as well. The struggling goaltender has a 4.55 goals-against average over his past seven starts after yielding two goals in winning his first three.
Smith was pulled just 4:26 into the Vancouver game after allowing two goals on three shots, three days after permitting six in a loss at Boston.
Smith owns a 1.93 GAA in 10 career starts against Colorado but has lost his last three while surrendering four goals in each.
The Avalanche scored 14 goals, four from Gabriel Landeskog and three by Duchene, in winning all three 2014-15 meetings. The Avalanche have won four straight and six of seven in the series.
Colorado has endured some goaltending issues of its own with Semyon Varlamov having allowed three or more goals in seven of his nine starts. With the Avs hosting the New York Rangers Friday, it’s likely he’ll split duties with Reto Berra during the back-to-back set.
Varlamov posted a 1.80 GAA in winning his two matchups with the Coyotes last season, while Berra allowed three goals on eight shots in 11 minutes in a start at Arizona on Nov. 25, 2014.