The Colorado Avalanche come into tonight’s matchup with Vegas on a bit of a downer, dropping two in a row against the Blues in the previous series. The Golden Knights are welcoming the Avalanche into their building riding a nine game winning streak with their last loss coming against the Blues back on April 7th. On the strength of their red-hot form, Vegas is now in the driver’s seat for top seed in the Honda West division, leading Colorado by four points.
That positions tonight as a critical matchup for both teams, as Colorado would find a six point gap with nine games left to play and only a May 10th matchup with Vegas remaining.
The Avalanche come into tonight’s contest on a two game losing streak and missing some big names from their lineup. In a contest that could be the difference between game seven in Colorado or in Vegas, coach Bednar will need to coax a better performance out of his team.
As per coach Bednar on Altitude 92.5 this morning, all of Mikko Rantanen, Joonas Donskoi and Philipp Grubauer will miss tonight’s contest. Bednar is expecting them to return to the lineup for either Friday or Saturday’s matchups at Ball Arena with the Sharks.
Talking to @Avalanche coach Jared Bednar now on @AltitudeSR 92.5.— Vic Lombardi (@VicLombardi) April 28, 2021
Says Mikko, Donskoi and Grubauer not going tonight but should be available Thursday or Saturday.
"we should be a hungry team tonight...it's the best team in the conference we're playing. Gonna have to grind".
With neither Jonas Johansson nor Devan Dubnyk impressing in St. Louis, the onus will be on the defense to tighten up in front of the net against a high-scoring Vegas team.
In other Avalanche news, the team signed first round pick Justin Barron to his entry level contract. Read more about it HERE. There were also setbacks in the injury recoveries of both Bowen Byram and Logan O’Connor, with both now being listed as week-to-week.
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Andre Burakovsky
Carl Soderberg - Tyson Jost - Val Nichushkin
Martin Kaut - Nazem Kadri - JT Compher
Liam O’Brien - Pierre-Eduoard Bellemare - Kiefer Sherwood
Samuel Girard - Devon Toews
Ryan Graves - Cale Makar
Patrik Nemeth - Conor Timmins
With Vegas coming in the matchup on a tear, partially fueled by the return of Robin Lehner from injury. With both Lehner and Marc-Andre Fluery the Golden Knights have likely the best goaltending tandem in the league, with both boasting goals against averages under 2.10 and save percentages north of .920.
Offensively the Golden Knights have been getting driven by their defenders. Both Shea Theodore and Alex Pietrangelo are playing extremely well throughout the win-streak. For Colorado to win, they will need to use their speed to force the Vegas defenders out of their recent comfort zone.
The Golden Knights will be without Tomas Nosek, Nicholas Roy and perpetual instigator Ryan Reaves. Reilly Smith and Keegan Kolesar are both game time decisions.
Max Pacioretty - Chandler Stephenson - Mark Stone
Jonathan Marchesault - William Karlsson - Reilly Smith
Dylan Sikura - Mattias Janmark - Alex Tuch
Will Carrier - Keegan Kolesar - Dylan Coghlan
Alec Martinez - Alex Pietrangelo
Brayden McNabb - Shea Theodore
Nicolas Hague - Zach Whitecloud
With Grubauer still sidelined, the Avalanche will likely return to Dubnyk in net. Dubnyk took the loss in his last appearance, allowing four goals on 29 shots in St. Louis.
Vegas’ likely starter will be Lehner, who has not allowed more than two goals in his last four starts and is undefeated since returning from injury March 19th, winning ten in a row.