Series (Game 2 of 6)

Minnesota leads 4-2

Game 1: Saturday, November 27th
Game 2: Thursday, December 23rd
Game 3: Friday, January 14th
Game 4: Thursday, February 3rd
Game 5: Wednesday, February 9th
Game 6: Tuesday, March 8th

Wild 3

(16-13-4, 36 pts)

Avalanche 1

(19-12-4, 42 pts)

9:00 PM ET, December 23, 2010

Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado

1 2 3 T
MIN 2 1 03
COL 1 0 01

M. Cullen (Wild - C): Goals: 2, Assists: 1

N. Backstrom (Wild - G): Saves: 36, Save Pct.: .973

D. Jones (Avalanche - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Wild-Avalanche Preview


The high-scoring Colorado Avalanche saw their six-game winning streak come to an end in their last game as they were shut out for the first time this season.

To bounce back, they'll have to find a way to generate offense against one of the NHL's better defensive teams -- something they had no trouble doing in the clubs' first matchup of 2010-11.

The Avalanche face the Minnesota Wild, who have won two straight while allowing one goal each time, Thursday night at the Pepsi Center.

The Avs' 121 goals are tops in the league and have pushed them into a battle for the Western Conference lead. Colorado, though, managed just 23 shots on goal -- one better than its season low -- in a 5-0 loss to Jonathan Quick and Los Angeles on Tuesday night.

The Avs (19-11-4) were blanked for the first time since a 3-0 loss to the Kings on Feb. 13 -- a span of 55 games.

"We've got to get back to the things we do well, and it starts Thursday," center Ryan O'Reilly said. " ... It's a big wake-up call."

Colorado scored 27 goals during its six-game run but struggled against the Kings' pressing style as its three-game home winning streak was snapped. The Avalanche were 7-0-1 in their previous eight home games, scoring 40 goals.

"We didn't dictate the type of game that we wanted," coach Joe Sacco said. "They did."

Minnesota (15-13-4) plays a style similar to Los Angeles, relying on aggressive defense to create scoring chances and dominate the puck. The Wild's 91 goals allowed are among the fewest in the conference, but Minnesota certainly didn't dictate the pace of play when it hosted Colorado on Nov. 27.

The Avs scored four straight goals in a 6:44 span of the second period -- two from Greg Mauldin -- and defeated the Wild 7-4. Colorado had 20 of its 40 shots in the second and chased Niklas Backstrom from the net midway through the third.

Minnesota, though, has looked good defensively in its last two games, sweeping a home-and-home series with Calgary. The Wild won 3-1 on Saturday and 4-1 on Monday, with Backstrom starting both times.

On Monday, he made 34 saves and four players scored for the Wild, winners of four of six.

"We really haven't had the consistency that we've wanted all year. We've strung together two, three games in a row and really found a way to drop off after that for a couple games," said center Kyle Brodziak, who recorded a goal for the second time in three contests. "I think the focus in the next couple of days is make sure we stick with what's been working the last few games."

Earlier this season, Minnesota developed a reputation for playing well in the first and third periods, but losing games with lousy second periods. As with the Colorado matchup, the Wild looked to be in danger of another one Monday as they were outshot 13-3, but Backstrom gave up only one goal in the period.

Minnesota has won two in a row in regulation for the first time since a three-game streak last month. The Wild, 3-1-1 in their last five on the road, had a three-game win streak in Denver snapped in November but are 6-1-2 in their previous nine visits.

Colorado, though, has won two of the last three overall matchups.