National Hockey League
Avalanche-Wild Preview
National Hockey League

Avalanche-Wild Preview

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 2:20 p.m. ET

The Colorado Avalanche added a piece at Monday's trade deadline with intentions of making a postseason push, but their biggest competition for the Western Conference's final playoff spot did the same - with similar plans to follow.

Two of the teams vying for the West's second wild card clash for a pivotal Central Division matchup on Tuesday night when the Avalanche visit the Minnesota Wild.

Colorado (32-28-4) currently holds the West's final playoff spot - two points ahead of Minnesota (28-25-10) - though the Wild have put some pressure on with improved play over the last two weeks while their health concerns have taken a turn for the better.

The Avalanche front office delivered a vote of confidence to the team on Monday by acquiring forward Mikkel Boedker from Arizona in exchange for forward Alex Tanguay and prospects Conner Bleackley and Kyle Wood.


Boedker, a speedy left winger, had 13 goals and 39 points with the Coyotes.

"It sends a message to everybody in here that they are willing up top to give us the best chance possible to win and go deep in the playoffs, and that's what we want to do," captain Gabriel Landeskog said. "I think this adds some depth up top, and I think (Boedker) has obviously tremendous speed and a lot of skill, so we are excited to have him."

Colorado, which also acquired defenseman Eric Gelinas from New Jersey for a 2017 third-round draft pick, could use a boost for the final five weeks as Minnesota has clawed back into the postseason discussion with a 5-3-0 run following a 1-11-2 stretch.

The Avs have lost two of three and are coming off Saturday's 5-3 defeat to Detroit in an outdoor game at Coors Field. Semyon Varlamov surrendered four goals for the second straight game and has a 3.96 goals-against average in his past four starts.

Varlamov has faced the Wild plenty in his career between stints with Washington and Colorado, going 9-10-1 with a 2.35 GAA. He suffered losses in this season's first two matchups before making 19 saves in a 2-1 overtime win on Dec. 7. That was just the Avalanche's second victory in the last 10 games of this series, including Minnesota's 2014 seven-game first-round playoff series win.

After totaling 21 goals during a season-high four-game win streak Feb. 15-21, Minnesota scored five while dropping three straight last week. The Wild, though, recovered with Sunday's 3-1 victory over Florida, just their second win in their last 11 at Xcel Energy Center.

With the push over the last two weeks and a few players returning from injury in the coming days, Minnesota general manager Chuck Fletcher added former Colorado forward David Jones on Monday in a trade with Calgary for oft-injured goalie Niklas Backstrom.

"I wanted to give the coaches some versatility in terms of lineup options," Fletcher said. "Give them some depth, and create some competition."

Jones, who played his first six seasons with the Avs and logged back-to-back 20-goal campaigns from 2010-12, had nine goals and six assists in 59 games with the Flames this season.

In addition, Minnesota continues to get healthier. Star forward Zach Parise returned on Sunday after a two-game absence with an upper-body injury, and defenseman Jonas Brodin is probable for Tuesday after missing 11 games with a broken foot. Also, forward Jason Zucker is expected back Thursday in Toronto after missing four games with a concussion.

Like Varlamov, Minnesota's Devan Dubnyk has also faced Colorado 20 times and is 11-6-1 with a 2.13 GAA.


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