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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, November 29th (All times Eastern)

Colorado Avalanche (17-6-0) at Minnesota Wild (15-7-4), 6 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Minnesota Wild will try to avoid a third straight setback as they begin a home-and-home series on Friday night with the visiting Colorado Avalanche.

The Wild are coming off just their second regulation setback at home this season as they dropped a 3-1 decision to the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday. Dany Heatley had Minnesota's lone goal off assists from Nino Niederreiter and Kyle Brodziak, while Niklas Backstrom made 23 saves.

The Wild have a six-game home winning streak halted, falling to 10-2-2 as the hosting club this season.

"It's tough no matter who you are playing, let alone a solid, defensive- structured team like Phoenix. You get yourself in a hole, 2-0, it's tough in this league to battle back," said Minnesota defenseman Keith Ballard.

Minnesota skated without forward Zach Parise, who is out with a foot contusion, while center Mikael Granlund exited after his first shift with a foot injury that landed him on injured reserve Thursday.

The Wild will visit the Avalanche on Saturday and it is unknown if Backstrom or Josh Harding, who is recovering from a lower-body injury, will start tonight.

Backstrom is 25-5-3 with a 2.22 goals against average and four shutouts in 32 career starts versus the Avs, while Harding is 3-2-1 with a 2.04 GAA in eight games (6 starts).

The Avalanche will start Jean-Sebastian Giguere, with Semyon Varlamov scheduled to go on Saturday.

Giguere is 10-2-3 with a pair of ties and a 2.39 GAA in his career versus the Wild, logging three shutouts. He won each of his first five starts before giving up five goals on 24 shots versus St. Louis on Nov. 14, though Varlamov actually was credited with the loss in a brief relief appearance.

Varlamov made 31 saves in Wednesday's 4-1 setback to the Blues that snapped a three-game winning streak.

Patrick Bordeleau put Colorado on the board with 11:36 to go in the first period to make it a 2-1 game, and the Avalanche had a chance to tie the game on a late power play. However, Jaden Schwartz scored a short-handed goal for the Blues to make it 3-1 with 1:48 remaining in the opening frame.

"That third (goal) was a tough break and it deflated us," said Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog. "After the first, we were just flat."

With forward Paul Stastny scratched due to back spasms, Matt Duchene made an early return from an oblique injury. He had sat out the previous three games and it was thought he would make his return to action tonight.

Stastny, meanwhile, is day-to-day.

The Avalanche have lost three straight and 10 of their past 14 versus the Wild.

11/29 10:55:57 ET

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