Wild-Avalanche Preview

The Associated Press

Coach Mike Yeo is hoping the Minnesota Wild have learned a lesson.

The Colorado Avalanche are looking to administer another one.

Yeo is looking for some improvement from the struggling Wild as they try to gain a split of this home-and-home set with the Avalanche on Saturday night in Denver.

Minnesota (15-8-4) has been outscored 9-2 while losing three games in a row following a 12-2-1 stretch. The Wild's recent struggles continued Friday with a 3-1 home loss to Colorado (18-6-0), ending their three-game winning streak over the Central Division rival.

"It seems to take us a 2-0 deficit right now to find the urgency to be effective in the game," Yeo said. "We seem to think that we're pretty good and we don't need to do some of the things that brought us success, some of the things that we need to do to be successful.

"Hopefully we're taking a lesson, we're taking notes."

A visit to Pepsi Center could also help Minnesota avoid its longest slide since dropping five straight Feb. 28-March 6, 2012.

The Wild are 12-2-2 over their past 16 road meetings with the Avalanche, winning the last two while totaling nine goals.

Zach Parise has 12 points in 13 career games versus Colorado, including four in five road contests. He had a goal in the most recent visit April 27, when Niklas Backstrom made 29 saves in a 3-1 win.

Parise, though, was unable to provide a lift for the Wild on Friday as he was held without a point after a surprise return from a left foot contusion. He was expected to miss 2 to 3 weeks after blocking a shot in Monday's 3-0 loss at St. Louis.

Backstrom is expected to be back in net after making way for Josh Harding, who saved 18 of 20 shots Friday. Backstrom is 10-1-1 with a 1.99 goals-against average and two shutouts over his last 12 starts versus Colorado.

He's also 11-2-1 with three shutouts in 14 career meetings at Pepsi Center.

The Avalanche are looking to compound the Wild's woes, and win for the fifth time in six tries. That stretch includes taking two of three from division foes.

"When you play well against the division, those are the points that are really going to matter in the end," Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said.

Landeskog is looking to build on his goal and two assists from Friday, which matched his point total from the previous seven games. He may benefit from another meeting against the Wild since he's averaging a point over 11 career matchups, totaling six in the past four.

The Avalanche will likely have Semyon Varlamov back in net after Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 27 saves Friday, becoming the first goaltender in franchise history to start a season 6-0.

Varlamov stopped 31 of 34 shots in Wednesday's 4-1 home loss to St. Louis after winning his three previous starts behind a 1.28 goals-against average.

He's lost four straight meetings - two at home - with the Wild, compiling a 3.36 GAA.

This will be his final start before returning to court to face misdemeanor assault charge for allegedly attacking his girlfriend last month. He's free on $5,000 bond, and the team won't discuss his long-term status until the legal proceedings have concluded.

The Wild are expected to be without center Zenon Konopka, who exited Friday's loss in the first period after taking a puck to his left eye.