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Minnesota Wild vs. Colorado Avalanche Pick & Prediction JAN 17TH 2022

NHL | HOCKEY
TV: SN1 | Sportsnet | ALT | BSN | BSWI+
Logo Minnesota Wild
VS
Logo Colorado Avalanche
6
OPENNER
-1.5

6o -127
CURRENT
-1.5 -105

+210
MONEYLINE
-250

3
SCORE
4

The Colorado Avalanche have been living dangerously since returning from a seven-game hiatus due to coronavirus issues.

Colorado has won 13 straight at home and is 7-0-1 since restarting its season, but the winning hasn't been easy. The Avalanche have had to rally in six of those seven wins and until a breezy 5-0 win at Arizona on Saturday night, victory wasn't assured.

Colorado hopes Saturday will start a new trend for the team, and it gets a chance to show that when the Minnesota Wild visit Monday for a matinee game.

The Avalanche have moved into first place in the Central Division with their recent winning streak, a spot widely predicted for them since before the start of the season. Colorado, like many teams, has navigated through injuries and positive COVID-19 tests but is close to full health nearly halfway through its schedule.

The Avalanche are the top scoring team in the NHL, even though star center Nathan MacKinnon is sitting on eight goals through 35 games. MacKinnon has piled up the assists (30), but the key to Colorado's offense is the depth.

Six players have scored 10 or more goals and six are averaging more than a point a game. Their leading scorer, Nazem Kadri with 49 points, is fifth in the NHL in scoring but isn't on the Central Division All-Star team (although he's a finalist for the Last Men In vote of fans through Monday).

"A good commitment from our group to play the right way," coach Jared Bednar said of the recent run. "It hasn't always been perfect, but different nights different guys stepping up and making a play or two. It's a confident group right now, and it has been a hard-working group."

Colorado faces a streaky Minnesota team. The Wild were 19-6-1 on Dec. 9 after winning eight straight but went 0-4-1 before winning their last three.

Dynamic young forward Kirill Kaprizov returned to the lineup after sitting out since Jan. 6 with an upper-body injury. Kaprizov, the Calder Trophy winner last season, had two assists in Friday's win over the Anaheim Ducks.

Minnesota has had as many games postponed (seven) as it has played since Dec. 12, but the players have tried to stay sharp during the downtime.

"Everyone wants to play games. The less you practice, the more games you play, the more fun it is," Matt Boldy said. "But I think we did a good job this week kind of getting what we needed to get done in practice and just going out there. There's an excitement, especially when you have those days off, you look forward to it even more."

The Wild and Avalanche have a rich rivalry based on three previous playoff clashes when the lower seed won each time. Minnesota won two of those, the last coming in 2014 when Darcy Kuemper backstopped the Wild to a Game 7 win.

Kuemper is now Colorado's top netminder and is coming off his first shutout of the season at Arizona on Saturday night. He is expected to start Monday.

--Field Level Media

PREDICTION
Minnesota Wild
2
5
Colorado Avalanche

Minnesota Wild vs. Colorado Avalanche Recap JAN 17TH 2022

Mikko Rantanen scored the only goal in the shootout and had a goal and an assist in regulation, Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and an assist, and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Minnesota Wild 4-3 in Denver on Monday.

Pavel Francouz had 24 saves in relief of Darcy Kuemper and stopped all three in the shootout and Alex Newhook also scored for the Avalanche, who have won 14 straight home games.

Kirill Kaprizov had two goals, Kevin Fiala also scored, Mats Zuccarello had two assists and Kaapo Kahkonen stopped 36 shots and two more in the shootout.

Rantanen scored on Colorado's second attempt of the shootout and Francouz made a glove save on Kaprizov to seal the win.

Kuemper left the game after getting hit up high by Jordan Greenway midway through the second period. He was looked at by a trainer and initially stayed in the game but left on the order of the NHL's concussion spotter.

The Avalanche outshot Minnesota 16-8 in the first and got the only two goals of the period after the Wild took two penalties.

Brandon Duhaime and Ryan Hartman took minor penalties 16 seconds apart, giving Colorado a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:44. The Avalanche cashed in 22 seconds later when Rantanen banked in a rebound off of Kahkonen at 15:57.

It was his 20th goal of the season.

Minnesota killed off Hartman's penalty, but four seconds later Newhook's one-timer off a pass from Sam Girard made it 2-0 at 17:39. It was his eighth of the season.

Fiala got one back for the Wild when he scored on a backhand just 33 seconds into the second period. It was his ninth of the season.

Kaprizov tied it at 6:46 of the third period but Colorado went back ahead 3-2 at the 16:28 mark when MacKinnon's shot went into Kahkonen's pads. It was initially ruled no goal but overturned upon review. It was MacKinnon's ninth of the season.

Kaprizov tied it 41 seconds later with Kahkonen off for an extra skater. It was his 16th of the season.

--Field Level Media

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