The Colorado Avalanche try to put the brakes on a three- game losing streak Thursday night when they pay a visit to the Minnesota Wild.
After dropping the first two games of their skid in regulation, the Avs were able to earn a point on Monday with a 3-2 overtime setback to the Phoenix Coyotes. Mark Olver and Matt Duchene scored in the second period for Colorado, but Phoenix netted the tying goal in the third before securing the winner with 59 seconds left in overtime.
It was a fluke goal for the Coyotes as Avalanche defenseman Greg Zanon tried to wrap the puck around the left boards from behind his own net. However, the puck hit off one of the referees and right to Phoenix's Kyle Chipchura, who fed Shane Doan for the winner.
Semyon Varlamov posted 27 saves in defeat, Colorado's sixth in eight games.
"It's a tough bounce, but for us we took the pedal off the metal in the third," said Duchene. "I made a terrible play on the second goal (allowed), I should have just kept the line and got it deep, but we made two mistakes and it's a tough way to end it. I thought we played a pretty good game even in the third, which wasn't our best period, it was still pretty good. It's disappointing."
Disappointing would also be a great way to describe Colorado's power play, which is just 3-for-37 on the season after failing to score on four chances versus the Coyotes. Colorado began overtime with a 4-on-3 advantage, but couldn't cash in.
Milan Hejduk assisted on Olver's goal for the 799th point of his career. He is just one shy of becoming the fourth player in franchise history, and second since the club relocated to Colorado, to reach 800 points.
Following a four-game homestand, the Avs will play back-to-back on the road, but are just 1-4-0 as the guest this season. They will also be without defenseman Erik Johnson due to a head injury suffered versus Phoenix that will keep him out indefinitely.
Johnson joins captain Gabriel Landeskog (head/neck) and Ryan Wilson (leg) as those who won't make the trip to Minnesota. However, defenseman Matt Hunwick (upper body) and center John Mitchell (flu) are slated to return to action on Thursday.
The Wild will try to take advantage of Johnson's absence and kick start an offense that has scored only seven goals in the past six games. Those struggles on offense led to a 2-1 setback in Vancouver on Tuesday.
Devin Setoguchi scored on the power play, logging his 200th career point, and Darcy Kuemper made 28 saves in his NHL debut, but couldn't prevent the Wild from losing for the fourth time in six games.
"Pretty nervous to start, real excited, almost a numb feeling. Once warmups started and started feeling a few pucks, you just try to treat it like another game," Kuemper said.
The Wild recalled Kuemper, 22, from Houston of the AHL after backup Josh Harding, the scheduled starter, wasn't able to play because of symptoms related to his multiple sclerosis.
The Wild have won seven of their past 10 versus the Avalanche, including a season-opening 4-2 home win on Jan. 19. Dany Heatley had a pair of goals and Zach Parise had two assists in his Minnesota debut.
Niklas Backstrom stopped 25 shots in the victory, the Wild's 13th in their past 18 at home against the Avs.
Mitchell and Cody McLeod each scored for the Avalanche, while Varlamov allowed all four goals on 35 shots.