Colorado Avalanche vs. Dallas Stars Pick & Prediction FEBRUARY 27th 2024

Not much has gone well for the Colorado Avalanche since the All-Star break, but they did get good news ahead of hosting the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night in Denver.

Valeri Nichushkin returned to practice after being away from the team since Jan. 12, a stretch in which he entered into the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program for personal reasons. Nichushkin won’t play Tuesday night, but his eventual return will be a boost for Colorado with less than two months left in the regular season.

“Obviously he went through what he needed to and we all support him,” Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar said. “For him to be back, it’s awesome to see him around. Hopefully he can get back in shape and figure it out. He has to take the time that he needs. We all respect him, and he’s a big part for us.”

Nichushkin won’t get a chance to play against the team that drafted him, and Colorado could use him. The Avalanche are 3-5-2 since a nine-day break and are coming off a 4-3 home loss to the red-hot Toronto Maple Leafs.

The one positive that came out of that defeat was Nathan MacKinnon extending his home-point streak to 28 games. MacKinnon tied Wayne Gretzky for the sixth-longest home point streak in NHL history. Gretzky also holds the all-time record of 40 straight games.

Colorado will attempt to gain ground on Dallas, which is in first place in the Central Division following a 3-2 overtime loss to the visiting New York Islanders on Monday night. Stars forward Logan Stankoven, playing in just his second NHL game, collected his first points, a goal and an assist, on his 21st birthday.

Playing in Denver is tough enough, but doing it in the second half of a back-to-back set — and coming off an overtime contest — will make it even harder for the Stars.

This is the third of four games between the division rivals, with the Avalanche having won the first two matchups in Dallas. The last meeting came on Jan. 4, when Colorado rallied from a two-goal, third-period deficit to win 5-4 in overtime on MacKinnon’s second goal of the night.

The Stars are two points ahead of second-place Winnipeg and four in front of third-place Colorado but have played four more games than the Jets and one more game than the Avalanche. With the trade deadline 10 days away, things could change for both teams.

Dallas has lost five of its past six (1-2-3) but has picked up five points in that stretch to stay atop the division. The Stars have a solid roster, but teams are always looking for the extra piece that could be the difference between losing in the first round of the postseason and hoisting the Stanley Cup in June.

“I’m happy with where we’re at, but I still think there’s another level we can go to,” Dallas general manager Jim Nill told The Athletic. “We’ve played good hockey. We’ve got a good mix of players — good veteran leadership that when the wheels start to come off, we always seem to get back on the track. Just when you think we might have an extended losing streak or something, the guys have always responded well.”

–Field Level Media

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