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Preview: Forces of Nature collide in Carolina

Will we see a third straight Stanley Cup Finals preview tonight?

Colorado Avalanche v Carolina Hurricanes Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Thursday night is game three of a six-game road trip for the Colorado Avalanche. It comes with yet another tough test, this one against the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, North Carolina.

These two have been at the top of their games and conferences respectively, in the last few seasons. The two have also been in the conversation to be a Stanley Cup Finals matchup for several seasons in a row. They last played in October, where the Avs won 6-4, and will be looking for a similar result.

Colorado Avalanche

The road trip has not gotten off on the right foot for the Avalanche. They lost their opening game to the New York Rangers 2-1 in overtime, and most recently against the New Jersey Devils thanks to a late goal against the run of play to end in a 5-3 final Tuesday night.

Nathan MacKinnon lost his point streak in the loss and was visibly frustrated on the bench, kicking things as he left. Expect a rebound from him and the entire first line thanks to MacKinnon’s anger.

He’ll be looking for help from Artturi Lehkonen, who did play the third period Tuesday on the first line and looked good for the first time since his return from injury. Regardless of whether or not the two play together on the same line, will the Avs steer the road trip in the right direction with a win?

Projected Lines

Jonathan Drouin (27) - Nathan MacKinnon (29) - Mikko Rantanen (96)
Miles Wood (28) - Ross Colton (20) - Logan O’Connor (25)
Artturi Lehkonen (62) - Ryan Johansen (12) - Zach Parise (9)
Andrew Cogliano (11) - Frederik Olofsson (22) - Joel Kiviranta (94)

Devon Toews (7) - Cale Makar (8)
Sam Girard (49) - Josh Manson (42)
Jack Johnson (3) - Bowen Byram (4)

Carolina Hurricanes

The Canes are also coming off of a loss of their own on Tuesday night. It came at the hands of the league-leading Vancouver Canucks, with Elias Lindholm scoring twice in his debut in a 3-2 win.

Carolina did not host a morning skate before this game, leaving some question marks in the air as to what the team will look like. Specifically, it leaves the mind to wonder as to whether or not Andrei Svechnikov will play through injury.

In net, the same questions will be had with Frederik Andersen injured long-term. Who will we see in the crease between Pytor Kochetkov and Antti Raanta to lead the Canes to victory?

Projected Lines

Teuvo Teravainen (86) – Sebastian Aho (20) – Seth Jarvis (24)
Michael Bunting (58) – Jesperi Kotkaniemi (82) – Martin Necas (88)
Jordan Martinook (48) – Jordan Staal (11) – Jesper Fast (71)
Brendan Lemieux (28) – Jack Drury (18) – Stefan Noesen (23)

Jaccob Slavin (74) – Brent Burns (8)
Brady Skjei (76) – Brett Pesce (22)
Dmitry Orlov (7) – Jalen Chatfield (5)

Goaltenders

For Carolina, it is a toss-up for who will be in the crease between Kochetkov and Raanta as previously mentioned. Meanwhile, for the Avs, it is far from a toss-up as Alexandar Georgiev will slot back in the blue paint.