The Colorado Avalanche were the last undefeated team in the NHL, but they too proved to be mortal when they fell 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in over time on Wednesday night. Tonight’s game is the third of six games on their first road trip of the season.
Ian Cole returned early from hip surgery to play against his former team. In just his second game this season, Cole scores his first point of the season on Wednesday, and logged over 16 minutes of ice time. The Avs got to Florida yesterday to have a day at sea level and with humidity ahead of tonight contest.
Despite the loss, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen each extended their point streak to six games. In that span, MacKinnon has three goals and six assists, including one assist last night. Rantanen has for goals, and six assists, boosted by an assist in Pittsburgh.
Nikita Zadorov was a healthy stretch on Wednesday, marking the first game he missed this season. He will be back tonight, as we will likely see Mark Barberio move back to the press box. In those five games, Zadorov has has one goal and one assist with seven shots. He’ll be a crucial member if this team as the season goes on and they make a push for a playoff appearance.
J.T. Compher missed three games with a lower body injury, but returned to the lineup on Wednesday. He posted 19 shifts and 14 minutes of ice time. The long break between early season games came at a good time for him, as he was able to rest and not miss too much action. Seeing him back on the third line with Colin Wilson and Tyson Jost means that the line will continue to be an offensive threat on this road trip.
Nathan MacKinnon didn’t skate this morning, but Coach Bednar said he might be good to go tonight. If he can’t play, Nazem Kadri will step up to the top line with J.T. Compher moving into the 2C role.
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Andre Burakovsky - Nazem Kadri - Joonas Donskoi
Colin Wilson - Tyson Jost - J.T. Compher
Matt Calvert - Pierre-Édouard Bellemare - Matt Nieto
Samuel Girard- Erik Johnson
Ian Cole- Cale Makar
Ryan Graves- Nikita Zadorov
The Panthers are returning home from a three game road trip of their own. They lost 3-2 to both the Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders in shootouts. Florida did beat New Jersey 6-4 on Monday, but have been off since then. The rest could give them time to jump-start their offense and shoot for win number three on the season, but it could also throw off their timing and allow the Avs to grab an early lead.
Mike Hoffman leads the team with eight points. He’s scored five goals, which is also the team lead. Aaron Ekblad is averaging 25 minutes of ice time per game, the most of any skater on the team. His two assists on Monday helped the Panthers defeat the Devils. This is a team with offensive potential, but they haven’t been able to put it all together yet.
Evgenii Dadonov- Aleksander Barkov- Jonathan Huberdeau
Mike Hoffman- Vincent Trocheck- Brett Connolly
Frank Vatrano- Henrik Borgstrom- Denis Malgin
Dryden Hunt- Colton Sceviour- Noel Acciari
MacKenzie Weegar- Aaron Ekblad
Anton Stralman- Mike Matheson
Josh Brown- Keith Yandle
Philipp Grubauer has been solid so far this season. In five starts, he has four wins. Grubauer has faced 166 shots, and only allowed 13 goals. He played against the penguins, but with the day off, he should be good to go tonight.
Sergei Bobrovsky has two wins in his five stars this season. The 31-year-old has allowed a average of 3.89 goals per game this season. He’s been the starter this season, Samuel Montembeault could be a candidate to take over later this season.