Minnesota (13-13-3) at Colorado (17-9-6)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Denver, CO
Temp: 71° F
  • Game info: 9:00 pm EST Wed Dec 9, 2009
  • TV: NBCS
Preview | Box Score | Recap

After a successful road trip, the Colorado Avalanche return home looking to end their recent struggles at the Pepsi Center. The Minnesota Wild seem to have used a home-and-home sweep of Colorado last month to spark their best stretch of the season.

The Avalanche go for their third straight win and first against the Wild this season Wednesday night.

Colorado (17-9-6) finished its five-game trip with back-to-back wins and went 3-1-1 during the stretch. The Avalanche had two shutouts on the trip, the last coming in the finale as backup Peter Budaj(notes) made 35 saves in a 4-0 victory over St. Louis on Monday.

Budaj was helped by two goals and an assist from Chris Stewart(notes). The big right wing recorded four goals and five assists on the trip and has six goals and 13 assists on the season.

Colorado plays seven of its next eight in Denver. The Avalanche, who have played a league-high 21 road games, won their first six home contests while outscoring opponents 24-11.

Since matching the franchise record for consecutive home victories to open a season, though, Colorado has lost four of five at the Pepsi Center. The Avs gave up 24 goals in their last five at home.

“We don’t really worry about home games or road games,” coach Joe Sacco said. “Our identity shouldn’t change no matter where you’re playing for us.”

Colorado begins this stretch against the last-place team in the Northwest Division, but the Wild (13-13-3) have been playing like anything but recently - especially against the Avalanche. Minnesota went 6-1-1 in its last eight, a surge that included back-to-back wins over Colorado on Nov. 27 and 28.

Minnesota had a five-game winning streak snapped with a 2-0 loss at Phoenix on Monday - the first time it was shut out this season. The Wild, who scored five goals in four of their previous five contests, were held to three shots on goal in the third.

“I think we made it tough on ourselves with some turnovers,” forward Antti Miettinen(notes) said. “Especially on the road, you have to play the puck deep and not turn it over. If you’re not having your strongest night, you do bad stuff.”

Minnesota went 0 for 6 on the power play after converting five of its previous 17 opportunities.

The Wild have produced enough offense against Colorado this season, scoring 11 goals over the three wins and four on the power play. Seven Wild players scored in regulation in those games.

“I don’t have any explanation except that we have played well against them,” said center Eric Belanger(notes), who had a goal in the last meeting.

Budaj has made three straight starts in place of the injured Craig Anderson(notes) (neck), posting a 1.34 goals-against average in those games. Anderson started all three Colorado losses to Minnesota this season and posted a 2.54 GAA, while Budaj compiled a 1.58 GAA in his last three matchups with the Wild despite going 1-1-1.

Minnesota will be playing the third game of a five-game trip. The Wild are 4-10-2 on the road.

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Wednesday, Dec 9