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PREVIEW: Arizona Coyotes host Colorado Avalanche, aim to keep momentum

Mar 20, 2021; Anaheim, California, USA; Arizona Coyotes center Derick Brassard (16) celebrates his goal during the first period against the Anaheim Ducks onda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 20, 2021; Anaheim, California, USA; Arizona Coyotes center Derick Brassard (16) celebrates his goal during the first period against the Anaheim Ducks onda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Coyotes earned a chance to celebrate a win for the first time in nearly two weeks when they beat Anaheim on Saturday.

If they want to keep celebrating, they’ll have to figure out how to stop Colorado when they host the Avalanche on Monday night. It’s the first of two games between the teams in Arizona on consecutive nights, and it’s a tough task for the Coyotes coming off of a 5-1 road win.

Related: NHL power rankings – Surging Canes stay in No. 1 spot, Colorado rebounds

The win capped a tough, seven-game trip for Arizona that started with a 3-2 win over Colorado on March 8. The victory was followed by five losses – the first against the Avalanche – with two coming in overtime. Now, they’re home for four games after 16 days away from Glendale.

Despite the losses, Arizona is feeling good following a complete performance against the Ducks. Derick Brassard had a hat trick and Antti Raanta had 27 saves. The Coyotes scored three times in the first period and cruised to the win.

“We’ve got to take a page of that first period and try to bring it on home with us,” Brassard said after the game.

The 28 shots Raanta faced Sunday might be a fraction of the total Colorado could throw at him over the next two nights. The Avalanche are averaging 44.3 shots on goal during their current six-game winning streak and completely dominated a Minnesota team that had won five straight before being outscored 11-1 in two losses.

The six wins capped a nine-game homestand.

“This entire homestand we’ve been real competitive and worked real hard and really paid attention to all the little things that we talk about all the time,” said Gabriel Landeskog, who had a goal and two assists in Saturday’s 6-0 win.

“As a group we’ve done a good job of stepping up and realizing how big this homestand, what an opportunity it was for us and to make a push in the standings.”

Colorado got healthier over the nine games. Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar, Bo Byram and J.T. Compher missed multiple games but returned to contribute to the win streak.

The only thing that didn’t go right for the Avalanche was the play of their backup goaltender, Hunter Miska. He was pulled after allowing four goals on seven shots in one period against Anaheim, but Colorado rallied to win that one.

The No. 1 goaltender has been pretty good for the Avalanche. Philipp Grubauer has won every game during the streak, two with shutouts to give him a league-leading five on the season, but he will likely need to rest Monday or Tuesday night.

Related: NHL trade rumors – Latest buzz for 2021 free agency

Colorado tried to shore up its goaltending situation by acquiring Jonas Johansson from Buffalo for a sixth-round pick in the 2021 draft on Saturday morning. Johansson’s stats with the Sabres weren’t ideal — he was 0-5-1 in seven games — but he said Sunday he is embracing a chance to start fresh with the Avalanche.

“I think there’s only good things to come from this,” he said. “I try not to look back too much at what happened in Buffalo, but I’m excited to (play here).”

–Field Level Media