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20-24-7

Avalanche-Panthers Preview

AP - Sports

The Colorado Avalanche could be getting an offensive weapon back as they head south to begin a three-game trip.

Veteran forward Alex Tanguay has missed 36 games with knee and hip injuries, but he's aiming to return Friday night when the Avalanche visit the Florida Panthers.

Defenseman Nate Guenin has been activated from injured reserve and could also return after missing eight games with an ankle injury, while forward P.A. Parenteau played in Tuesday's 5-2 loss to Toronto after missing 10 games with a knee injury.

Tanguay, who has nine points in 13 games, plans to make a final determination after Friday's morning skate.

"We've gone through a rough patch with injuries and we've still managed to play some pretty good hockey and managed to pull out some wins," forward Gabriel Landeskog told the team's official website. "Getting these guys back gives us even more offensive power and depth. They're certainly going to help us on the power play and to spread the scoring a little bit as well. They're pretty hungry and eager to get back."

Parenteau, who has 25 points in 39 games, had an assist in his first game back, but the Avalanche (31-13-5) saw a four-game winning streak come to an end after falling behind 4-0 early in the second period.

Nathan MacKinnon scored both Colorado goals and has four points in his last two games. The center leads all rookies with 17 goals and 33 points.

"We lost the game in the second period," MacKinnon said. "Their goalie made some good saves for them. We've been playing well of late, but we can't let this game get us down too much."

Semyon Varlamov started each game during the winning streak, but struggled against Toronto. He was replaced early in the second after allowing three goals on 10 shots, and he's allowed seven goals in his last two games.

After Tuesday's 4-3 victory in Buffalo, Florida (20-23-7) has won consecutive games for the first time since a five-game winning streak from Dec. 10-19.

Tim Thomas made 32 saves - 15 in the third - and is 7-3-2 with a 2.10 goals-against average since Dec. 5.

"It was a little bit of chaos there for a while," Thomas said. "But it must have been entertaining for the fans. And I can laugh at it because we came out on top."

Thomas is 3-1-0 with a 2.00 GAA and .941 save percentage in his career against Colorado.

The Panthers got goals from Jesse Winchester, Sean Bergenheim, Ed Jovanovski and Nick Bjugstad. Winchester has four points in two games since returning from a 14-game absence.

They've scored nine goals in the last two games, but still haven't snapped out of a power-play drought that has reached a franchise-record 11 games. They haven't scored on their last 36 chances, one shy of their franchise record of 37 from Nov. 10-Dec. 1, 2010. It's the league's longest drought since Vancouver went 36 straight during the 2012-13 season.

Panthers rookie forward Aleksander Barkov, the team's leading scorer with 24 points, left the game against Buffalo with a lower-body injury and is considered day-to-day.

Florida has won three straight at home against the Avalanche and also beat them 4-1 in Colorado on Nov. 16. Defenseman Tom Gilbert had three assists while Scottie Upshall added two to extend his point streak against Colorado to four games.

Parenteau had a assist for the Avalanche and has a four-game point streak against the Panthers.

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