Avs look to build on OT win over Hawks in final games of 2016

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The 2016 calendar year has not been kind to the Colorado Avalanche. Their first loss in 2016 leveled their record at .500, exactly where they would end the season, again out of the playoffs. Their head coach left them hanging just one month before the start of the regular season and the Avs have struggled to rebound from that shock, skating to the worst record in the National Hockey League through the early part of this season.

They have losing streaks of six and five games already this year, the latest which came to an end the Friday before Christmas with a thrilling OT win over the Western Conference-leading Blackhawks in Chicago.

After closing out the pre-holiday portion of the schedule on Friday, the Avs have played five of their 11 back-to-back sets this season. Colorado is 2-3-0 in the first game and 3-2-0 in the second after beating the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 in overtime.

“That was a great team effort from every guy,” head coach Jared Bednar said postgame. “To a man, I thought we played the way we need to play. Too often this year we’ve been in circumstances where we should be taking advantage of it and haven’t, and we wanted to make sure tonight that we could try and break that and make a statement, try and start building something. And what better time than against this team, against this goalie, in this building. I think under the circumstances, it says a lot about our team. Now we got to find a way to duplicate that performance and repeat it over and over again. To me, that is the standard of our team, and we haven’t met it enough.”

Colorado has three games remaining in 2016, including a New Year’s eve tilt at Pepsi Center with the Rangers, to try and swing some more positive momentum heading into 2017. Here’s a quick snapshot of what to expect before the Avs ring in the new year.

Tuesday, December 27 vs. Calgary Flames
Pepsi Center, 7 p.m. MT

The Avalanche host the Calgary Flames in its first game back from the NHL’s holiday break. It will be the first of three matchups this season and the only time the Flames visit the Mile High City, as Colorado’s remaining two contests against Calgary, on Jan. 4 and March 27, will both be played on the road. The Avs have won five of the last eight games on home ice in the series.

Thursday, December 29 at Dallas Stars
American Airlines Center, 6:30 p.m. MT

Colorado takes on Central Division rival the Dallas Stars for the fourth time this season. It’s the second of three road contests against Dallas. The Avs are 1-2-0 against the Stars this season and are 12-4-1 since the 2013-14 season. Nathan MacKinnon’s four points (two goals, two assists) leads all Colorado skaters in the season series.

Saturday, December 31 vs. New York Rangers
Pepsi Center, 6 p.m. MT

The Avalanche rings in the new year by hosting the New York Rangers on Saturday, which will also be the only visit to Pepsi Center for the Eastern Conference’s third-ranked team. Colorado is 18-11-1 all-time against New York and won 10-of-11 games between Nov. 5, 1999 and Dec. 21, 2007. The Avs split the season series with the Rangers in 2015-16 with the road team winning each matchup.

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