Flames-Avalanche Preview

The Associated Press

Nathan MacKinnon is in the midst of the best stretch of his young career, helping the Colorado Avalanche get their homestand off to a solid start.

Colorado seeks a fourth consecutive win while looking to deal the struggling Calgary Flames a fifth straight defeat Monday night.

MacKinnon, selected with the No. 1 overall pick in July's draft, has four goals and an assist as the Avalanche (26-11-4) have gone 3-0-1 on their seven-game homestand. The 18-year-old scored twice to become the youngest player in franchise history with a multigoal game in Saturday's 4-3 victory over San Jose.

MacKinnon has 12 goals and 14 assists to lead all rookies in points.

"A little bit, when it gets announced on the Jumbotron," MacKinnon said when asked if he thinks about the rookie scoring race. "But that's not my focus."

Colorado may have lost some of its focus after letting a four-goal lead dwindle to one before holding on. Semyon Varlamov finished with 30 saves, including a few big ones down the stretch.

"We obviously don't want to let them back in the game like that," MacKinnon said. "Thankfully we hung on to get the win. (Varlamov) really bailed us out, like he usually does when we get the win. It was a very intense last couple of minutes but thankfully we managed to hang on."

Paul Stastny had two assists as nine different players recorded a point Saturday.

"Everybody is pushing hard," coach Patrick Roy said. "Everybody wants to give ourselves a chance to make the playoffs."

Varlamov is 6-0-4 with a 2.14 goals-against average in his last 11 appearances, and he could be in net against a Calgary team that has totaled one goal during its four-game losing streak.

The Flames (14-21-6) fell 2-0 against Tampa Bay on Friday, getting blanked for the third time during their skid. Their only goal in that stretch came from rookie Sean Monahan in Tuesday's loss to Philadelphia.

"We're not good enough. We've got to find a way to generate more," captain Mark Giordano said. "Every mistake right now is magnified because we're not scoring goals. We're wasting pretty good efforts from our goaltenders."

Karri Ramo made 27 saves Friday after Reto Berra lost the previous three contests despite a 2.08 GAA. The Flames are 0 for 10 on the power play during their losing streak after failing to convert on five in the last contest.

Defenseman Dennis Wideman returned after missing 16 games with a broken hand.

"It's extremely frustrating," winger Lee Stempniak said. "We definitely feel like we're letting the goaltenders down. They've played great. Every game, they've kept us in it and given us a chance. It's definitely a disappointing feeling for the 18 skaters out there letting them down."

It's unclear who will start in net for Calgary in this contest, but Ramo has gotten the nod in each of the first two meetings. He made 23 saves but lost 4-2 on Nov. 8, then stopped 22 shots in a 3-2 defeat Dec. 6.

Ryan O'Reilly had a goal and an assist in the first meeting for the Avalanche, while MacKinnon scored in the second contest. Jean-Sebastien Giguere has been in net for both meetings, while Varlamov is 3-4-0 with a 2.65 GAA in his career against the Flames.

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