Unbeaten in last six games, Avalanche face Stars
The Colorado Avalanche were stumbling through a tough part of their schedule two weeks ago, going 0-4-1 including blowing two third-period leads.
It seems like a long time ago now. The Avalanche (12-6-4) are 5-0-1 in their last six games and after Friday's 5-1 win at Arizona, they are riding a four-game road winning streak.
They'll carry that momentum into the Pepsi Center on Saturday night where they host the Dallas Stars. Dallas (12-9-2) was headed in the opposite direction of Colorado but Friday's 6-4 win over Ottawa ended a two-game skid.
Colorado's offense has been one of the best in the NHL this season. Mikko Rantanen leads the NHL in points with 36 after scoring a goal and an assist against the Coyotes, and linemate Nathan MacKinnon had two assists and is second with 33 points.
Those two, along with Gabe Landeskog, have done a lot of damage on the power play. The Avalanche leads the league in power-play percentage at 34.9 entering Friday.
"When the power play is clicking like that, it feels good, and, obviously, it can win you games," Landeskog said earlier this week. "Special teams, we know how important they can be, and we're going to need that moving forward."
Dallas got forward Devin Shore back against Ottawa on Friday. He had missed the previous four games with a lower-body injury and had two assists in his return.
"I can chip in offensively, but I also know I want to play the right way and bring a good 200-foot game as well," Shore told NHL.com before the Stars took on the Senators.
Dallas is leaning on goaltender Anton Khudobin while its top netminder, Ben Bishop, is out with a lower-body injury. Bishop was placed on injured reserve and has missed the last two games. He will sit out at least one more.
Stars coach Jim Montgomery is comfortable with Khudobin, who had 29 saves Friday night.
"He has the mentality of a No. 1," Montgomery told reporters this week. "He believes, and we all believe, that he truly is a No. 1. It's a luxury to have this, and this is why (general manager) Jim Nill went out and signed him."
Montgomery will have a homecoming of sorts Saturday night. He was the head coach at Denver University for five seasons and led the Pioneers to the 2017 national championship. He was named the Dallas head coach on May 4.
He won't have time to reminisce on this quick trip back to Denver. He'll be preoccupied with trying to slow down the Avalanche, who got a little deeper the return of forward J.T. Compher. Compher had been out since Oct. 13 with a head injury but returned Friday. He made an immediate impact by scoring two goals in the first period in a 4-0 win over Arizona.
Even more impressive, his two goals came 1:25 apart - and while the Avalanche were killing off a Rantanen hooking minor.
Philipp Grubauer got the win in net and Semyon Varlamov is expected to play Saturday night. He got his 200th career win against the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday night.
Updated November 24, 2018