Minus MacKinnon, Avs take on Blue Jackets

( - The Colorado Avalanche's playoff chances already were in dire straits and an injury to sophomore star Nathan MacKinnon is not likely to help the cause.

The Avalanche hope to get by without MacKinnon on Saturday when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena for the start of a quick two-game road trip.

MacKinnon scored the winning goal in Wednesday's 3-1 home win over Pittsburgh, but he also suffered a broken foot in the contest. The injury is expected to sideline MacKinnon for at least six weeks, meaning the 2013-14 Calder Trophy winner could be done for the season.

The 19-year-old has 14 goals and 24 assists in 64 games this season after posting 24 goals and 39 assists during his stellar rookie campaign.

"Obviously, it's never good news when you're losing a player like Nate, especially in a key moment in our season," said head coach Patrick Roy. "We're going to have to find ways to win without him."

Despite winning six of its last nine games, the Avalanche are nine points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. With only 18 games remaining in 2014-15, last season's surprise Central Division champions would need a fantastic finish and a great deal of help to get back to the postseason.

The Avs used a 28-save effort from Semyon Varlamov to hold off the Penguins on Wednesday. Gabriel Landeskog had a goal and two assists while Jarome Iginla also scored.

MacKinnon, meanwhile, tallied late in the second period to give Colorado a 2-0 lead.

Colorado has won two of its last three away games, but is just 11-12-8 as the road club this season. The Avs will visit Minnesota on Sunday and Varlamov could start both games of the weekend trip.

The Blue Jackets, who have been all but mathematically eliminated from the playoff race in the East, have won three of the last five meetings against Colorado. Columbus recorded a 4-3 regulation win in Denver on Jan. 4, but the Avalanche have claimed three of the last four encounters at Nationwide Arena.

Columbus had lost seven straight before halting its second longest skid of the season with Friday's 3-2 victory in New Jersey. Marko Dano scored the eventual game-winning goal before the midway point of regulation and the Blue Jackets held on for the win.

Justin Falk and Brandon Dubinsky each tallied a goal and an assist and Sergei Bobrovsky made 21 saves for the Blue Jackets, who won their first game since a 2-1 decision at Pittsburgh on Feb. 19.

"I really liked our first period," Columbus head coach Todd Richards said. "It feels good winning and doing some things throughout the game right."

Columbus led 3-1 after 40 minutes, but the Devils cut the deficit to one goal early in the third period. New Jersey nearly sent the game to overtime as Mike Cammalleri put the puck into the net at the end of regulation, but not before the final horn sounded.

It's uncertain if Bobrovsky will start again tonight or if backup Curtis McElhinney gets the call.

The Jackets hope to end a four-game home skid tonight and pick up their first win at Nationwide since beating Philadelphia on Feb. 13. They are 12-18-2 on home ice this season.