(Updated: Fixing day in lede)
Nathan MacKinnon established career-best goal (24) and point (63) totals during his rookie season in 2013-14, numbers that he hasn’t come close to matching. That could change this season for the white-hot MacKinnon, who looks to lead the Colorado Avalanche to their third straight victory at the Minnesota Wild on Friday afternoon.
Colorado, which finished with a league-worst 48 points last season, is almost halfway to that total after blanking Dallas 3-0 on Wednesday for its third win in four games. “When we bring our best we’re hard to contain,” said MacKinnon, who assisted on all three goals to give him 20 points in his last 10 games. “We want to make teams worry about us and not us worrying about them. The past month we’ve been doing that.” Minnesota, which ended a modest two-game slide with a 5-4 victory at Buffalo on Wednesday, will be playing the first of three in a row against Central Division opponents. The Wild have won three in a row overall against Colorado and nine of the last 11 matchups in Minnesota.
TV: 4 p.m. ET; Altitude (Colorado), FSN North (Minnesota), NHL.TV
ABOUT THE AVALANCHE (11-8-1): No. 1 netminder Semyon Varlamov returned to practice Thursday after dealing with an illness but he will not accompany the team to Minnesota. Varlamov told reporters “I’m feeling better,” but Jonathan Bernier will make his third straight start after registering 28 saves in his first shutout of the season in Wednesday’s win. “I felt pretty good,” Bernier said. “I think it just carried from Detroit. It’s nice to get back-to-back games. I’m just starting to feel pretty good.”
ABOUT THE WILD (10-8-3): Nino Niederreiter, who has three straight 20-goal seasons, scored twice at Buffalo to extend his goal-scoring streak to five games — the second-longest string in franchise history. “He goes to the net and he’s hungry,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. “He’s not going to get a million beautiful goals but he’s going to get the greasy ones in front of the net and that’s what he does.” Alex Stalock could get the start in net with a trip to St. Louis awaiting on Saturday night.
1. Niederreiter has six goals and two assists during a seven-game point streak.
2. Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog has six goals in his past nine games.
3. Wild F Mikael Granlund has scored twice in back-to-back games.
PREDICTION: Wild 4, Avalanche 3