Wild hope home-ice advantage pays off vs. Avalanche | KFAN 100.3 FM

Minnesota Wild v Los Angeles Kings

The Minnesota Wild get to do something they have not done much of in the first seven weeks of the season -- play at home.

Minnesota has been on the road for 14 of its first 21 games, and scheduled for nine home games in the first two months of the season, the fewest in the NHL.

The Wild take a brief break from the road when they host the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night.

It will be just their eighth home game and a chance to pack some momentum for yet another road trip. Minnesota is 2-0-1 in its last three games, including a 4-1 win at Buffalo on Tuesday night. The Wild jumped out early on the Sabres, getting two goals in the first period to get just their fourth road win of the season.

"There hasn't been a lot of games we've jumped out to the lead," forward Zach Parise, who had two goals, said after the win. "It's an easier game to play when you have that cushion and you're not chasing the game."

Thursday's game is the second of five against Colorado this season and the first in St. Paul. The Avalanche won the first meeting, 4-2, in Denver on Oct. 5. Forwards Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog played big parts in that win, but both are sidelined for this one as are several other players on the injury-riddled roster.

Rantanen was off to a quick start with five goals and seven assists before suffering a lower-body injury on Oct. 21. He has begun to skate on his own but there has been no decision on when he can return.

Landeskog is expected to miss significant time with a lower-body injury that knocked him out after 11 games.

Colorado is also without forwards Colin Wilson (lower body), Tyson Jost (upper body) and Matt Calvert (head).

The Avalanche did get back a major piece when goaltender Philipp Grubauer returned to the lineup on Tuesday. Grubauer was out for five games with a lower-body injury and made 31 saves in a 3-2 win at Calgary.

Colorado coach Jared Bednar has shuffled players to team with Nathan MacKinnon on the top line without Landeskog and Rantanen. MacKinnon is still producing without his linemates with a team-leading 31 points in 21 games. He assisted on both goals by Andre Burakovsky on Tuesday night.

"He can do so much with the puck. Normally a guy could need a little bit of support, but he's kind of dancing off guys easy and using his speed to create space for himself," Burakovsky said of MacKinnon after the win. "When you play with him, the challenge for the other guys is to find the open ice because when you do, the puck is going to come."

The Avalanche had a hot start to the season, going 8-1-1 out of the gate but stumbled to an 0-4-1 stretch after Landeskog and Rantanen went down. They've rebounded to win five of their last six and have a chance to finish with four wins on this five-game road trip before heading home for two games over five days.

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