Semyon Varlamov
Coyotes-Avalanche Preview
Semyon Varlamov

Coyotes-Avalanche Preview

Published Dec. 27, 2015 1:58 a.m. ET

The Colorado Avalanche didn't work on much in their last practice, though they are making some line changes to help their top unit.

John Mitchell and Nathan MacKinnon will switch lines for the Avalanche on Sunday night when they face an Arizona Coyotes team that has dropped six straight on the road.

Colorado (17-17-1) got back to work at practice Saturday after having a season-high five-game win streak snapped Monday with a 7-4 home defeat to lowly Toronto.

"They seemed rusty a bit at the start, but we had a good-tempo practice, lot of passing, lot of shooting," coach Patrick Roy said. "That's what we wanted, not much about the structure, more about getting the legs going."


The big news is that Mitchell will join Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene on the top line with MacKinnon centering Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla. Duchene is pointless in his last three games with two of his team-high 16 goals in his last nine while Landeskog has one goal in his last 10 games.

Roy used these combinations for stretches against the Maple Leafs.

"We need to get some scoring from our top line and I thought that was good at some point to do that," he said.

Semyon Varlamov will start Sunday, with backup Calvin Pickard slated to start Monday in San Jose. The club is without Reto Berra, who is out for at least 10 days with an ankle injury.

Defenseman Nate Guenin suffered a head injury Monday and will not play against the Coyotes. Roy said his spot in the lineup will be taken by Brandon Gormley alongside Zach Redmond. Gormley hasn't played since Dec. 13.

Arizona (16-15-3) is enduring its longest road slide since a seven-game streak Feb. 10-March 16. The Coyotes completed a 3-1-2 homestand with Saturday's 4-3 overtime defeat to Los Angeles.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored twice and Antoine Vermette added a goal and an assist. Each had a power-play goal in a 30-second span late in the third period that helped Arizona salvage a point.

"It's hard coming out of those three days (off), you're not mentally engaged," coach Dave Tippett said. "We challenged our guys this morning and they really responded, I like the way we played."

The Coyotes will likely be without center Boyd Gordon, who left Saturday after taking a blow to the head. Martin Hanzal has missed two straight games and six of seven with a lower-body injury.

Louis Domingue made 29 saves Saturday in his third straight start. Anders Lindback, who has a 3.94 goals-against average in three career starts against the Avalanche, will start Sunday.

"We'll go to Lindy tomorrow, it's a tough turnaround, two games in 24 hours," Tippett said.

Mikkel Boedker had three assists Saturday, but has scored just two of his team-high 11 goals in 11 games this month. Rookie Max Domi has scored twice in his last 18 games and Anthony Duclair has two in his past 12, with each having 10 for the season.

The Avalanche had won four straight over the Coyotes before falling 4-2 on the road Nov. 5. Arizona's Nicklas Grossmann scored two of his three goals this season in that contest.


Semyon Varlamov
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