Blue Jackets face the Avalanche in Colorado
The Colorado Avalanche opened a seven-game homestand in defeat, but may have suffered a bigger loss in the course of that contest.
The Avalanche begin an extended stretch without the injured P.A. Parenteau on Tuesday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Colorado (23-11-4) fell to 0-1-3 in its last four with Sunday’s 2-1 overtime loss to Winnipeg. Parenteau went down with a left knee injury in the second period and is expected to miss six weeks with an MCL sprain.
The winger is tied for fourth on the team with 24 points after he tied for the Colorado lead with 43 a season ago. Brad Malone will be called up from the minors for his second stint with the club, and rookie Nathan MacKinnon will replace Parenteau on the line with Paul Stastny and left wing Gabriel Landeskog.
"It’s part of the season, you’re losing guys and it gives others opportunities to show what they have," coach Patrick Roy said. "And it’s a great chance for Malone now."
Roy was asked about the fact that the Jets got physical with Semyon Varlamov, who will start Tuesday and has a 2.18 goal-against average in his last nine appearances. The coach and former star goalie said it was a result of Varlamov’s strong work in the crease.
"This is the next step," Roy said "He’s playing so well, teams are gonna try to get in his face a little bit more. I love it, I love it."
Varlamov is 3-2-1 with two shutouts and a 1.66 GAA in his career against the Blue Jackets.
Columbus (17-18-4) is 4-1-0 in its last five matchups with Colorado. The Blue Jackets are seeking their first three-game road win streak in the opener of this four-game trip.
The club is without reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky, out since Dec. 3 with a groin injury. Bobrovsky could return on this trip while Curtis McElhinney and Mike McKenna have combined for a 2.91 GAA in the 11 games he has missed.
"Our team game has been better and our structure has been better and that’s protected our goalies, but our goalies have still made some big saves at key times when you need them to," coach Todd Richards told the Blue Jackets’ official website. "You look at the Carolina game (Dec. 23) in the last seconds and McKenna makes a great save on a pass across … it’s making those timely saves and our team play has done a better job as far as insulating our goaltenders.
"They both have done a great job for us."
Richards did not say who would start Tuesday, although McElhinney is expected to get the nod. His club’s three-game win streak was snapped with Sunday’s 5-3 home loss to Pittsburgh.
Ryan Johansen was held pointless for a second straight game after he recorded 14 points in his previous 12 contests. McElhinney made 25 saves in suffering his second loss in his last six starts.
The Blue Jackets remain without injured forwards Marian Gaborik and Nathan Horton, although Horton is nearing his club debut after shoulder surgery.
Columbus will have to be wary of Matt Duchene, who has 13 points in his last eight games although he has gone pointless in his last two like Johansen.