High-scoring Avalanche visit struggling Senators

NHL Hockey
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While the Colorado Avalanche continue to get by thanks to a potent offense, the rebuilding Ottawa Senators are still struggling to consistently score goals.

A winner in four of their last five, the Avalanche look to build on another productive contest while trying to hand the host Senators a fourth straight defeat on Thursday night.

Andre Burakovsky had a goal with three assists, Valeri Nichushkin recorded one with two assists and Nazem Kadri posted one of each in Colorado’s 6-1 rout at Buffalo on Tuesday. The Avalanche, third in the Central Division, have recorded 24 goals over the last five games and lead the Western Conference with 188 on the season.

The line of Kadri, Burakovsky and Nichushkin has been a big reason for the club’s recent success. Burakovsky has four goals with 10 assists in eight games, Kadri has recorded three of each in the last three and Nichushkin has posted a goal with three assists in two games.

“We’re taking care of the opportunities that we got,” Burakovsky, who has career-high 39 points, told the Avalanche’s official website.

“We have the keys that we need to have a successful line … I’m just trying to give some speed to the line, and try to make plays.”

Colorado will look to improve to 2-1 on their five-game trip through the Eastern Conference with a stop at Ottawa, which ranks in the bottom half of the league with 144 total goals. Amid a 2-6-7 stretch, the Senators have scored more than two goals only four times in the last 11 games.

Artem Anisimov and Drake Batherson both scored and Mike Reilly recorded two assists on Tuesday, but Ottawa fell 3-2 in a shootout at home to Anaheim. The Senators are just 1-4-5 at home since Dec. 29, but take a bit of solace in the competitiveness that’s been shown despite sitting near the bottom of the East.

“You want to win those games,” coach D.J. Smith told the Senators’ official website. “And, you put pressure on the guys to do that.

“We continue to get better. We’re in games with everybody. As we get older and more mature, we’ll win more of those.”

The Senators have won five of the last six meetings with Colorado, and will eye a fourth straight victory at home in the all-time series on this first 2019-20 meeting Thursday.

Craig Anderson allowed six goals the last time he faced Colorado in October 2018. Marcus Hogberg made 26 saves for the Senators on Tuesday, and has a 2.86 goals-against average while going 0-1-2 in his last three at home.

The Senators are still waiting for netminder Anders Nilsson to return from a concussion that’s kept him out of action since Dec. 16.

Anisimov, meanwhile, has a goal in two straight home games.

Colorado’s Philipp Grubauer made 23 saves at Buffalo to bounce back from yielding five goals in a 6-3 loss at Philadelphia to open the trip. He’s won his last two starts versus Ottawa. Backup Pavel Francouz is 6-2-0 with a 1.82 goals-against average on the road this season.

–Field Level Media

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