Vancouver Canucks (4-2-0) at Colorado Avalanche (1-4-2), 9 p.m. (ET)

( – The struggling Colorado Avalanche hope the return of
their No. 1 goaltender can help the club end a four-game skid when it hosts
the Vancouver Canucks in Friday’s clash at Pepsi Center.

The Avalanche are 1-4-2 on the season and in the midst of an 0-2-2 slide.
However, Colorado head coach Patrick Roy revealed good news Thursday when he
announced goaltender Semyon Varlamov will return to action in Friday’s game.

Varlamov was placed on injured reserve last Thursday with a groin injury.
Although he is 0-2-1 with a 3.80 goals-against average and .910 save
percentage through three games this season, Varlamov led the NHL last season
with a franchise-record 41 wins and finished second in the voting for the
Vezina Trophy.

The 26-year-old Russian netminder is just 2-7-1 with a 2.62 goals against
average in 10 lifetime games against the Canucks.

Colorado is lagging far behind last season’s pace, as the club shocked the
hockey world by winning their first six games and going 12-1-0 out of the
gates. The Avs, of course, wound up winning their first division title since
2003 last season, as they finished ahead of Chicago and St. Louis for the
Central crown.

After losing the final three tests of a four-game road trip, the Avs returned
to Denver to face Florida on Tuesday, but dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to
the Panthers. Colorado fought its way back into the game after falling behind
2-0 in the first, but Florida’s Brad Boyes scored the game-winning goal in

Tyson Barrie, Alex Tanguay and Gabriel Landeskog each lit the lamp in the loss
and Reto Berra stopped 32-of-36 shots for Colorado.

“We came back after a really bad first period,” Berra said. “We needed the
wake-up call.”

Colorado had a strong 26-11-4 record on home ice last season, but fell to
0-1-1 as the host with Tuesday’s setback. The Avs’ next game is Sunday’s away
tilt in Winnipeg, but the club will follow that up with another two-game
homestand against San Jose and the New York Islanders.

Roy’s club posted a 2-1-0 record against the Canucks last season, but
Vancouver has claimed 11 of the last 14 meetings in this series. The Canucks
have lost two in a row in Denver after winning the previous four encounters at
Pepsi Center.

Vancouver will shoot for a second straight win Friday after recording an
impressive 4-1 road victory last night in St. Louis. Ryan Miller had 31 saves
against his former club and the Canucks used a three-goal third period to beat
the Blues at Scottrade Center.

Miller, who signed with the Canucks during the summer after spending the
second half of last season in St. Louis, turned aside 16 shots in the first
two periods before stopping all 15 he faced in the third.

“It was interesting,” said Miller. “I’ve never done that before. I’ve never
had a chance to play against a former team like that. … A lot of good guys
on the (Blues); it was one that I was actually really looking forward to,
especially here in St. Louis. It was fun.”

Chris Higgins, Nick Bonino, Linden Vey and Jannik Hansen all scored for
Vancouver, which got back on track after consecutive losses.

The Canucks are 3-1-0 on the road this season and are closing a three-game
trip tonight. Next up for Vancouver is a three-game homestand, beginning with
Sunday’s tilt against Washington.

It’s unclear if Miller will play on back-to-back nights Friday, or if Eddie
Lack will get his second start of the season. Lack suffered an overtime loss
in his only career outing against Colorado, while Miller is 1-4-3 with a 3.32
GAA in eight lifetime games versus the Avs.