Wild to Stop Avalanche, Finish Sweep by Home Team in Season Series

Matthew Jordan

Monday, March 12, 2018 4:30 PM UTC

Monday, Mar. 12, 2018 4:30 PM UTC

The playoff-hopeful Avalanche and Wild finish off their season series Tuesday night in a national TV affair (8:30 ET, NBC Sports Network) from the Twin Cities.

Colorado Avalanche (80 points) at Minnesota Wild (85 points)Free NHL Picks: Wild & UnderBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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While most bettors will be focused on the NCAA Tournament’s First Four games Tuesday, and I’ll have you covered here at SBR on those, there is one nationally televised NHL matchup, and it’s Colorado at Minnesota with an 8:30 p.m. ET puck drop on the NBC Sports Network.

It’s an important game with both the Avalanche and Wild fighting for playoff spots. Minnesota seems a good bet to get in, but Colorado is no sure thing. It’s the fourth and final meeting between the teams with the Avs leading 2-1. They have handed the Wild two of their most lopsided losses of the season, both in Denver: 7-2 on Jan. 6 and 7-1 on March 2. Minnesota won at home on Nov. 24, 3-2 in a shootout.

Nathan MacKinnon leads the Avalanche with eight points (three goals, five assists) against the Wild this season. Mikko Rantanen has seven points (two goals, five assists). Semyon Varlamov won his lone start, allowing one goal. Jonathan Bernier started the other two and is 1-0-1 with a 1.92 GAA and .937 save percentage. Eric Staal (two goals, one assist) and Jason Zucker (one goal, two assists), lead the Wild with three points vs. Colorado. Devan Dubnyk is 0-2-0 with an ugly 8.47 GAA and .776 save percentage. Backup Alex Stalock is 1-0-0 with a 2.84 GAA and .889 SV.

The home team is 5-1 in the past six meetings.

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Dubnyk Smart Bet At Home

Presumably, it will be Varlamov in net here because Bernier was unable to finish Saturday’s 5-2 win over Arizona, which ended the Avs’ three-game losing streak (all in overtime), after taking a slap shot to the head. Bernier was playing in his first contest since missing 10 games with another head injury. The team has called up Spencer Martin to serve as Varlamov’s backup.

MacKinnon is among the NHL points leaders with 81 and might be leading the league if not for missing a few weeks in February due to an upper-body injury. He does lead the NHL in points per game at 1.35. MacKinnon is on an eight-game point streak after two assists in the win over the Coyotes. He also got into a fight, which is rare. The Avs are a spectacular 14-1-1 in their past 16 home games but 12-16-6 on the road this season.

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Today was big.#GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/orNMLQpMrM

— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) March 11, 2018

Minnesota had a three-game winning streak snapped in a 4-1 loss in Edmonton on Saturday. Dubnyk allowed three goals on 27 shots as he looked for career win No. 200. He’s a completely different guy on the road, going 11-10-0 with a 3.22 GAA and .900 SV compared to 19-3-5 with a 2.14 GAA and .931 SV at home.

Staal, meanwhile, leads the team in goals (37) and points (68). He had scored a goal in three straight before Saturday’s loss. The Wild’s special teams are in a bit of a funk without a power-play goal in the past two and having allowed the opponent to score with the man advantage in five of the past seven. The Wild rank ninth in the NHL on the power play (21.4 percent) and 17th on the penalty kill (79.9 percent).

Colorado has won just twice in its past 12 in Minnesota, and the Wild are 12-3 in their past 15 following a loss of at least three goals. Keep riding Dubnyk at home and back the Wild for a Tuesday NHL pick.

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