Blue Jackets-Avalanche Preview
With a road-heavy portion of the schedule behind them, the
Colorado Avalanche will try to build some momentum at the Pepsi
The Columbus Blue Jackets want to keep theirs going on the
The Avalanche open a four-game homestand looking to prevent the
surging Blue Jackets from matching the longest road winning streak
in franchise history Saturday night.
Tied with Los Angeles and Anaheim with a league-high seven road
games, Colorado (5-4-1) will play seven of its next nine at home
following Thursday’s 6-5 victory at Calgary.
Sparked by Chris Stewart’s second career hat trick and Daniel
Winnik’s game-winner with 2:20 left, Colorado snapped a three-game
skid. Eleven Avalanche players recorded at least one point.
“It was a total team effort,” said Stewart, who has seven goals
and five assists during a seven-game point streak. “It’s great to
see that we’re getting scoring from (all) lines. It’s just exciting
to watch out there.”
The third-year forward leads the club with 14 points and eight
goals – twice as many as any teammate. Stewart, who scored three
times in last season’s four-game season sweep of Columbus, already
has as many power-play goals (three) as he did in 2009-10.
With the offense being carried by Stewart and Milan Hejduk, who
has three goals and six assists during a five-game point streak,
the Avalanche are hoping former No. 1 goalie Peter Budaj can
solidify a defense that’s yielded 19 goals in four games. Budaj has
allowed 13 in three starts this season, but he’ll likely make his
first home start Saturday because top goaltender Craig Anderson is
out indefinitely after suffering a freak knee injury during warmups
Budaj, 1-3-0 with a 4.02 GAA in his last four starts versus
Columbus, will be backed up by Denver native John Grahame following
his call-up from the AHL on Thursday.
While the Avalanche try to avoid a third straight home loss, the
Blue Jackets (6-3-0) look to equal a team-record four-game road
winning streak set Dec. 2-12, 2006.
Columbus, 5-1-0 in one-goal games, has outscored opponents 5-1
in the third period and overtime of its three road contests. Boston
and Nashville are the only other teams yet to lose on the road.
The Blue Jackets have won three straight and five of six
overall, including a 3-2 shootout victory over visiting Edmonton on
Thursday as Rick Nash and Nikita Filatov scored in the
Columbus, which hasn’t won four in a row since Feb. 7-14, 2009,
had lost its previous eight shootouts.
“It’s paying off when you have guys competing hard the whole
game,” said goalie Steve Mason, 2-0-0 with a 1.97 GAA in two road
starts. “It really puts some pressure on the other team and they
make mistakes. And we just have to capitalize on them.”
One area in which the Blue Jackets have yet to capitalize is the
power play. They’re among the worst in the league with the man
advantage, going 4 for 41.
Colorado’s penalty kill, though, is one of the NHL’s worst at
74.4 percent. The Avalanche have given up six power-play goals in
the last four games.