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Carolina Hurricanes at Colorado Avalanche
When and Where: Monday, March 11, Pepsi Center, Denver, Colo., 9:05 p.m. EST.
Back on track after an embarrassing home loss, the Carolina Hurricanes look to extend their recent success on the road as their three-game swing continues Monday night in Denver versus the Colorado Avalanche.
‘Canes out to extend stellar road run
Carolina (37-24-7) entered play Sunday night third in the Metropolitan Division, tied with Pittsburgh and two points ahead of both Columbus and Montreal with 14 games remaining. The Hurricanes wrap up this trek with a crucial contest at Columbus on Friday night and have three days off after this game.
More Mrazek Magic ✨ pic.twitter.com/NIxiFd67Vm
— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) March 10, 2019
The Hurricanes improved to 10-1-2 in their last 13 road games by defeating the Nashville Predators 5-3 on Saturday night, bouncing back from an 8-1 thumping administered by Winnipeg. Nino Niederreiter had a pair of first-period goals, and Jordan Martinook had a third-period tally to keep the Predators at by after they had closed to within 3-2.
Sebastian Aho added an empty-net marker for his 30th goal to cap the scoring, setting a career high. Already with a career-best 77 points, Aho has five goals and 12 assists — with seven helpers on the power play — during Carolina’s road surge.
“The biggest key is to not get frustrated. Having a 5-on-3 and not getting a goal is definitely frustrating, but we’ve got to stick with the process,” Niederreiter told the Hurricanes’ official website, referring to his first period goal which came at the end of an extended power play. “We had some good, quality shots during that time and had to make sure we got it done at some point.”
Niederreiter has 11 goals and 21 points in 22 games since being acquired from the Minnesota Wild and notched his fourth 20-goal season in the last five years. He ended a six-game goalless drought with his two goals and has six points in his last five games.
Petr Mrazek is expected be in the pipes once more and try to extend his personal winning streak to six games. He has a 1.99 goals-against average and .935 save percentage in those five wins and is 5-1-1 with a 2.73 GAA and .901 save percentage in his last seven road starts.
Mrazek is 2-0-2 in five appearances against Colorado and relieved Michal Neuvirth in his last matchup March 28, stopping all 17 shots he faced in helping Philadelphia record a 2-1 victory. He is 2-0 at the Pepsi Center, blanking the Avalanche in 2015 while with the Detroit Red Wings.
Avs try to build on home shutout victory
Colorado (30-27-12) is in a far more precarious spot when it comes to its postseason chances, having headed into play Sunday two points behind the Minnesota Wild for the final Western Conference wild-card spot but also one point back of the Arizona Coyotes.
The Avalanche have been on the winning and losing ends of shutouts in the last two games and kicked off a four-game homestand by blanking Buffalo 3-0 on Saturday. Nathan MacKinnon factored in all three goals, scoring one and assisting on the other two as he picked up the slack for the injured Gabriel Landeskog, and Philipp Grubauer made 18 saves for his second shutout of the season.
Both of Grubauer’s shutouts have come in his last three starts, and while coach Jared Bednar did not commit to a starter during practice Sunday, he did admit to the team’s website “[It] could be possibly tough to take him out.”
Both Grubauer and Semyon Varlamov have kept Colorado in playoff contention while the team struggles to find offense beyond their top three scorers in MacKinnon, Landeskog, and Mikko Rantonen. The Avalanche have yielded just 27 goals in their last 13 games.
“They’ve given us a chance to win every night,” Bednar said of his keepers. “If you look at our team’s record since then, that is one of the reasons why it is the way it is.”
Grubauer made 31 of his 42 saves in the final two periods of Colorado’s 3-1 win at Carolina on Oct. 20, extending his personal win streak over the Hurricanes to three games. He is 5-2-1 with a 2.50 GAA in eight starts and nine lifetime appearances in the rivalry but has not faced them as the home goaltender since 2014 while with Washington.
MacKinnon also had a goal and two assists in that game, while Landeskog — out at least four weeks with an upper-body injury — had the other two goals. Rantonen has five goals in his last seven games after scoring against Buffalo for his career-high 30th of the season.
It is the first time Colorado has had at least three 30-goal scorers since Joe Sakic, Claude Lemieux, Valeri Kamensky and Peter Forsberg accomplished the feat in the 1995-96 season.
The Avs are 5-0-1 in their last six home games after losing the previous six in regulation.
had a pair of goals and Rantonen had an assist. The trio has accounted for 98 of Colorado’s 222 goals, and MacKinnon has two goals and four assists in his last three games versus Carolina.
The Avalanche are:
- 5-13 in their last 18 games vs. above-.500 teams.
- 3-11 in their last 14 games when allowing two or fewer goals in the previous game.
- 1-5 in their last six games vs. Metropolitan Division opponents.
- The under is 5-2 in their last seven games vs. above-.500 teams.
- The under is 7-3-1 in their last 11 in the third game of a 3-in-4 situation.
- The under is 11-3-2 in their last 16 games.
The Hurricanes are:
- 7-1 in their last eight games vs. Central Division opponents.
- 8-2 in their last 10 in the fourth game of a 4-in-6 situation.
- 11-4 in their last 15 road games vs. teams with a sub-.500 home record.
- The under is 6-1-1 in their last eight games vs. the Avalanche.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
With three days off following this contest, the expectation is the Hurricanes are going to play hard for 60 minutes and try to make life miserable for the Avalanche. Colorado is trying to balance its scoring lines, having MacKinnon center the top line and Rantonen as a right wing on the second line, but the Hurricanes have depth down the middle in Aho and Jordan Staal and an equally competent top six forwards.
Prediction: Pick: Hurricanes -105
Full-Game Total Pick
Despite the stingy total of allowing 27 goals in its last 13 games, Colorado has yielded three or more in six of them and recorded shutouts on three occasions. But both Mrazek and Grubauer are in strong form and should be able to help keep a lid on the respective opposing offenses.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 6 goals
Full-Game Prop Bet
Taking the Hurricanes and the under makes taking the Avs under three goals as the logical pick. There is some skepticism about Colorado without Landeskog, and Carolina is a higher-caliber opponent than Buffalo. That means the Avalanche will likely not be outshooting the Hurricanes 43-18 like they did the Sabres.
Prediction: Pick: Avalanche UNDER 3 goals
Half-Time Side Pick
Carolina has totaled nine goals in the first period of its last six games and 13 in the last 10. Additionally, if you take away the four-goal first period the Hurricanes endured in their loss to Winnipeg, they have conceded just three goals in the other nine games. Colorado has failed to score a goal in five straight opening periods, and while the Avs held a 1-0 lead in the previous meeting between the teams, the Hurricanes are the pick here.
Prediction: Pick: Hurricanes -0.5 goals (+177)
Half-Time Total Bet
This is a bit of a toss-up because the Hurricanes have scored their first-period goals in pairs, netting two in four of their last six games. The expectation is they will stifle the Avalanche and grab a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 1.5 goals