(SportsNetwork.com) - After having to sit and watch other teams solidify their playoff positioning, the Colorado Avalanche return to action on Thursday night with a road matchup against the Arizona Coyotes.
The Avs have been idle since Saturday, when they recorded a 3-2 win over the Calgary Flames. It was their fifth victory in six games and 10th in the last 13 contests, but the Avalanche's recent down time has moved them seven points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.
Colorado does have a game in hand over Winnipeg, which is hosting the first- place St. Louis Blues tonight.
"It seems like every night someone is winning that is hurting us, but that's the way it goes," Colorado forward Ryan O'Reilly said on the Avalanche's official website. "We have to control what we can control, and that's just our games and the points we can get."
Alex Tanguay had a goal and an assist in Saturday's win over the Flames, while Ryan O'Reilly and John Mitchell added goals. Tyson Barrie notched a pair of assists and Semyon Varlamov posted 22 saves.
"Tonight was crucial, and we'll take it," sand Tanguay. "This was a good game for us."
Varlamov won his fifth game in a row and could get the call tonight when Colorado kicks off a five-game swing. The Avalanche are right back in action tomorrow night when they visit the Anaheim Ducks.
Varlamov is 5-5-1 with a 3.03 goals against average and .897 save percentage in 11 games (10 starts) versus the Coyotes.
Arizona has been held to just three goals over a five-game losing streak, getting shut out 1-0 by the Los Angeles Kings on Monday. Mike Smith made 34 saves, yielding the game's only goal to Andy Andreoff late in the second period.
The Coyotes fell to 1-14-1 over their past 16 games.
"We knew what was on the line for them. We were trying to play spoiler and it didn't work out tonight," said Smith.
After losing their seventh straight on the road, the Coyotes begin a three- game homestand tonight. Smith is 8-1-4 in 13 games (10 starts) against the Avalanche with a 2.02 GAA and .935 save percentage.
The Avalanche are going for a three-game season series sweep of the Coyotes tonight and have won three in a row and five of the past six encounters overall. They also have won three in a row as the guest.