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Avalanche-Wild Preview

Colorado Avalanche center Ryan O'Reilly, left, and Minnesota Wild center Mikko Koivu, of Finland, right, collide in overtime in Game 5 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series on Saturday, April 26, 2014, in Denver. The Avalanche won 4-3. (AP Photo/Chr Photo:

Colorado Avalanche center Ryan O'Reilly, left, and Minnesota Wild center Mikko Koivu, of Finland, right, collide in overtime in Game 5 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series on Saturday, April 26, 2014, in Denver. The Avalanche won 4-3. (AP Photo/Chr

Matt Duchene is one of the NHL's hottest players with 10 goals and 18 points in his last 12 games, but he has failed to score in 13 straight games against the Minnesota Wild.

The Colorado Avalanche star will try to end that drought Saturday night on the road in the opener of this home-and-home set between Central Division rivals.

Duchene is one of the league's top scorers since his surge began Nov. 10. He had a goal in both of Colorado's back-to-back 2-1 road wins, netting Thursday's winner against the New York Rangers.

"Right now, he's a pretty confident player and putting pucks on net seems to work well for him right now," coach Patrick Roy said.

Duchene's goal drought against Minnesota (13-7-4) began March 13, 2013. He is pointless in the last six meetings, with Colorado (11-14-1) losing five of them.

That includes a 5-4 home loss in these teams' opener Oct. 8. The Avalanche blew a three-goal lead entering the third period, as Zach Parise had a hat trick for the Wild.

Minnesota is bracing itself for a big effort by the visitors.

"We know what to expect from them, we know what type of game it is," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "We have to prepare for the emotion, we have to prepare to be at our best."

Colorado, which hosts Minnesota on Monday, seeks to match its season-high three-game run Nov. 10-14. The Avalanche are 8-8-0 on the road as they close a four-game trip, with no team playing more away games.

"It's good to win on the road," coach Patrick Roy said. "Our road record is pretty good, we've been playing some good games."

Semyon Varlamov made 24 saves and Chris Wagner scored the other goal Thursday for the Avalanche, who received a scare when Erik Johnson left after he took an inadvertent skate to his face before the defenseman returned to the game.

The Avalanche have one of the league's worst power plays on the road at 11.3 percent. The Wild are near the bottom of the league on the penalty kill at 75.0, though they held Toronto to 0 for 2 in Thursday's 1-0 victory that ended a three-game home slide.

"We're building, we're learning still," winger Chris Porter said. "Last night, two big kills and hopefully we can continue to build and kind of climb out of the basement in that category."

Devan Dubnyk took over the league lead in shutouts with his fourth after a 28-save effort. He will start Saturday, though it's possible he may leave the team if his wife gives birth to their second child.

"We're planning on starting Devan right now, and if something changes we will adjust," Yeo said.

Parise has no goals and one assist in four games since returning from an eight-game absence due to a knee injury.

Both teams have strong divisional records, with Minnesota 6-3-3 and Colorado at 3-1-0.

"Heading to Minnesota, playing them back to back, divisional games are going to be big," Avs defenseman Francois Beauchemin said.

"I know that they are looking at these next couple games as a pivotal point of their season and we better be ready," Yeo said.

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