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Wild Continue Playoff Push Against Avalanche

(Sports Network) – Thanks to some weather issues, the Avalanche haven’t gotten a chance to shake off their All-Star break rust yet. The Minnesota Wild will try to take advantage of that this evening when they go for a third straight victory in a battle with Colorado at the Pepsi Center.

The Avalanche haven’t played since a 5-2 loss to the Coyotes on Jan. 26. They were scheduled to take on the Blues on Tuesday, but a blizzard warning in the city of St. Louis caused a postponement “due to the concerns and safety of our fans, players and staff,” said Blues vice chairman and chief executive Mike McCarthy in a release.

The contest was rescheduled for Feb. 22, so the Avalanche will come into tonight’s contest rested but having not played in just over a week.

Colorado will play its next two games at home and went 2-3-0 on a five-game residency prior to the All-Star Game. The Avs have fallen a point behind the Wild for second place in the Northwest Division and two points back of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The extra rest could get forward Ryan O’Reilly back on the ice for the first time since he injured his shoulder versus the Wild on Jan. 14. O’Reilly suffered the ailment went he fell into the boards and was taken off the ice on a stretcher for precautionary reasons. He has missed the last five games and is questionable for tonight.

Colorado won that road meeting with Minnesota, 4-1, for just its third victory in the last 10 games of this series. The two clubs have split a pair of games in Denver already this season, but the Wild have still won four of five and six of their last eight at the Pepsi Center.

Avs goaltender Craig Anderson is 2-4-2 with a 2.69 goals-against average versus the Wild, while Peter Budaj is 9-9-3 with a 2.62 GAA when facing them.

Minnesota did get to play its scheduled home game versus Los Angeles on Tuesday and claimed a 1-0 shootout victory, its second win in a row and fifth in six games. The Wild have three shutouts in that span, including two by goaltender Niklas Backstrom.

Backstrom made 27 saves versus the Kings for his third shutout of the season and 22nd of his career. He is 15-4-2 with a 2.30 GAA lifetime against Colorado.

Backstrom came up with a big toe save on Los Angeles’ Jack Johnson and Minnesota’s Pierre-Marc Bouchard came up big as the next skater with the winning goal on a backhander after nearly losing control of the puck.

“Big win. It was not our best one, but I guess when you are coming out of a one week break and you’re a little rusty, you can sure use two points,” Bouchard said.

Minnesota, which trails Chicago and Los Angeles by a point for the eighth spot in the West, has won six of its last eight on the road.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.