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Mar 21, 2024 7:02 pm

Avalanche look to extend win streak to eight, face Blue Jackets

colorado avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche aim for their eighth straight victory when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday in Denver.

Another victory for Colorado (44-20-5, 93 points) would mark the ninth winning streak of eight-plus games in Avalanche franchise history. Colorado’s team record of 12 consecutive wins was set during the 1998-99 season.

It isn’t out of the question that the current Avalanche squad could match that record by the end of its upcoming five-game homestand, given how dominant Colorado has looked on home ice. The Avalanche are 26-6-0 at home this season, and nine of their last 13 regular-season games will be played in their own rink.

The Avalanche returned to Denver after a 4-0-0 road trip that included some narrow results. Colorado’s last three wins were a pair of overtime victories and a gritty 4-3 decision over the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday.

Colorado coach Jared Bednar described his team’s effort Tuesday as “resilient,” as the Avalanche twice had to fight back to equalize the score.

“We’ve been going through games without any turnovers (or) scoring chances against, and tonight we had more than a handful. … We didn’t manage the puck quite the way we’d expect to,” Bednar said.

Every point is crucial for the Avalanche in their fight for playoff positioning. Colorado isn’t even guaranteed home-ice advantage in the first round of the postseason, considering the tight race between the Avalanche, Winnipeg Jets and Dallas Stars for the Central Division crown.

The Blue Jackets (23-34-12, 58 points) are at the other end of the spectrum, with the worst record in the Eastern Conference. The Jackets are 1-3-2 in their past six games, and are on a two-game winless streak after Tuesday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

Columbus led 3-2 going into the final 13 seconds of regulation before Detroit’s Lucas Raymond tallied the equalizer. The Blue Jackets also held a 2-0 lead and a 20-5 shots advantage after a stellar first period, though the Red Wings quickly bounced back with two goals in the first 4:23 of the second frame.

It was another tough loss during a lost season for the Jackets, though coach Pascal Vincent pointed to how his club regained the lead after the demoralizing second period.

“We’ve seen this team pushing back now more and more,” Vincent said. “These are good signs, especially when you look at the roster. I thought our guys from the (AHL) were better today, they’re adapting to the pace.”

Johnny Gaudreau leads the Blue Jackets with 51 points (11 goals, 40 assists).

Yegor Chinakhov and Adam Boqvist are questionable due to upper-body injuries. Chinakhov has missed the Jackets’ last four games and Boqvist the last three games. Zach Werenski is day-to-day.

Since the Blue Jackets also play on Saturday against the Vegas Golden Knights, goaltenders Daniil Tarasov and Elvis Merzlikins will probably split the back-to-back starts.

Alexandar Georgiev will likely resume starting duties for the Avalanche since backup goalie Justus Annunen played on Tuesday.

Nathan MacKinnon has 32 points (10 goals, 22 assists) during his ongoing 16-game points streak. MacKinnon’s 117 points is already a career best, and the star forward is battling Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov for the league lead in points.

–Field Level Media

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