The Colorado Avalanche and Nashville Predators meet at Pepsi Center for the first game of a home and home series. The two clubs both have playoff aspirations this season and are separated by a mere point in the standings.
The Predators have stuck to their identity of superb goaltending and a big, physical defense. Led by All-Star defenseman Shea Weber, Nashville prides itself on being an extremely difficult team to play against. As a team, the Predators spread the goalscoring around as they do not have an elite scorer on the roster. Homegrown winger Patric Hornqvist leads the team with 11 goals, one of eight Predators that have scored between eight and 11 goals on the season. With Pekka Rinne in net, this team effort approach has paid off as Nashville is aiming for their seventh playoff berth in the past nine seasons.
For Colorado, the Avalanche will have to rebound from their loss at St. Louis without the help of defensemen Erik Johnson and Shane O'Brien. The two were injured during that game and are not available against Nashville. But reinforcements are on the way, as Ryan Wilson will make his return from a head injury suffered against Vancouver in early December. Even with the injuries, Colorado is coming home after a 3-1 road trip that has made them one of the hottest clubs in the league. Goaltender Semyon Varlamov will get the start against Nashville. Varlamov has won his last four starts, allowing a mere five total goals in that span.
Puck drops at 7:00 p.m. MDT. These two teams will meet in Nashville again on Thursday night.
For more coverage, visit our Avalanche blog Mile High Hockey and our Predators blog On The Forecheck.