The Colorado Avalanche are running out of time in their quest for a Western Conference playoff berth but can improve their chances with a victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Friday in Denver. Colorado fell to 2-4-0 in its last six games with Monday's 3-0 loss at home to Carolina and suddenly finds itself five points behind Arizona for the final wild-card spot with a game in hand.
"Is this crippling? I don't think so," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar told reporters Monday after his club was shut out for the second time in three games. "... We're still right there. I've said it all along - it's probably going to come down right to the wire." Philipp Grubauer, who made 18 saves in a 3-0 victory over Buffalo on Saturday, has started back-to-back games for the first time since playing three in a row Jan. 2, 4 and 8, but Semyon Varlamov is expected to get the nod Friday. "... We need to perform, both of us, in order for us to win games and make the playoffs here,'' Grubauer told reporters. "Every game is crucial." Anaheim began its two-game road trip by losing to the Coyotes 6-1 on Thursday, falling to 4-3-0 in its last seven contests as it tries to build confidence toward next season while playing the role of spoiler.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, FS West (Anaheim), Altitude (Colorado)
ABOUT THE DUCKS (28-35-9): Jakob Silfverberg scored for the third straight game Thursday and has a team-high 21 goals - two shy of his career high set in 2016-17 - while extending his career-high point streak to seven games (five goals, four assists). Rickard Rakell provided the assist and has six of his 32 points in the last seven games. Corey Perry owns three goals and seven points with a minus-12 in 21 contests this season and has played the same amount of games as teammate Ryan Getzlaf (978), who leads the club with 41 points.
ABOUT THE AVALANCHE (30-28-12): Nathan MacKinnon (35 goals, team-high 87 points) was kept off the scoresheet Monday for the third time in six March games but has two goals and four assists in the other three contests. Mikko Rantanen (30 goals, 86 points) has three goals and two assists in the same every-other-game pattern established by MacKinnon in March with each player totaling 32 points on the power play this season. With captain Gabriel Landeskog (33 goals) sidelined for what appears to be at least the regular season with an upper-body injury, the club hopes Carl Soderberg (career-high 21 goals) can snap out of a nine-game scoreless drought.
1. MacKinnon and Rantanen account for 29.3 percent of the club's goals and 29.1 percent of the points.
2. Anaheim's penalty-killing unit went 3-for-5 on Thursday for the second straight game and is only 16-for-24 in its last five contests.
3. The clubs split a pair of one-goal games in the first two of three meetings this season with Colorado prevailing 4-3 on Nov. 18 on Rantanen's goal with 1.3 seconds left in overtime and Anaheim winning 2-1 on March 3 behind a goal and an assist by Silfverberg.
PREDICTION: Avalanche 3, Ducks 2