The bad news: The Colorado Avalanche lost their third straight game on Tuesday night, a 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers.
The good news: Since their main competition all lost, the Avalanche kept pace in the Western Conference playoff hunt.
The bad news: With that loss in Edmonton, Colorado is now 2-11 against Northwest Division opponents.
The good news: Colorado welcomes the Minnesota Wild to Pepsi Center. Colorado defeated the Wild 1-0 in December, one of their two divisional wins this season.
With a victory, Colorado can leapfrop Minnesota and retake command of the 8th seed in the West, despite struggling mightily the past two weeks. After a dreadful December eliminated their hot start to the season, the Wild have regained their footing the past two weeks. Despite going 3-6-1 in January, Minnesota ended the month winning two of their past four games against solid competition. Dany Heatley is finally giving the Wild the offensive production they expected when they traded for him this offseason. Cal Clutterbuck is enjoying a quality campaign as well; the noted agitator has 13 goals this season, ranking third on the team.
The biggest struggle for Minnesota the past two months has been consistent goaltending. Both Josh Harding and Niklas Backstrom have struggled the past month, barely managing a .900 SV% between the two of them. With the Wild's team-based offensive approach, they need the goaltending to steal some games. Lately, that has not been happening.
Colorado faces a similar dilemma. Matt Duchene looks to out with a knee injury until at least mid February, leaving the Avalanche thin on impact top forwards. Peter Mueller has been a surprisingly solid addition since his return earlier in January -- he has four goals in eight games. Paul Stastny has also been a quality contributor, with a team leading nine points in the past 10 games. But the offense hasn't quite been enough as Colorado has lost three straight games, all by a 3-2 margin. The goaltenders have been solid, but not spectacular.
Puck drops at 7:00 p.m. MDT
For more coverage, visit our Avalanche blog Mile High Hockey and our Wild blog Hockey Wilderness.