The last time Darcy Kuemper and Nicolas Aube-Kubel played hockey in Colorado, they were taking part in the Stanley Cup Final for the Avalanche last June.
Aube-Kubel and Kuemper were essentially one-year rentals for Colorado and became salary cap casualties after the championship parade rolled through downtown Denver. Kuemper landed in Washington as the No. 1 goaltender, and Aube-Kubel went to Toronto before being waived by the Maple Leafs and claimed by the Capitals.
Both former Avs will make their first trip back to Colorado when the Capitals visit Denver on Tuesday night.
Colorado acquired Kuemper from Arizona ahead of last season with the hope he would stabilize the Avalanche’s situation in net. He missed four postseason games due to injury but played all six Stanley Cup games.
“It was a pretty special year,” Kuemper said. “It was only one year, but it’s going to be a lot of fun just to be back there. Obviously, some of the best moments of my life were last year.”
Aube-Kubel has two goals and four assists in 17 games with Washington this season.
Kuemper is coming off a tough game against Vegas on Saturday night when he allowed four goals on 18 shots and was pulled from the game midway through the second period.
Alex Ovechkin missed the 6-2 loss to the Golden Knights with a lower-body injury but was skating at practice on Monday in Denver. It was a rare missed game for Ovechkin, who has sat out just 28 games due to injury in his long career.
Head coach Peter Laviolette told the Washington Post that Ovechkin looked good in practice but is still considered day-to-day.
Forward T.J. Oshie, who had a goal on Saturday, returned to Washington, D.C. to be with his wife, who is expecting the couple’s fourth child.
Colorado is home after sweeping a three-game road trip that ended with a 2-1 shootout win in Seattle on Saturday night. The Avalanche were reeling before winning their last five games, the last three without defenseman Cale Makar.
Makar sat with an upper-body injury, but he was on the ice for Monday’s practice. Veteran Erik Johnson did not practice in what was classified as a maintenance day, but he will be evaluated at Tuesday’s morning skate.
“It’s nice to go on a little run here. We needed to do it,” Johnson said after the shootout win over the Kraken. “It’s three more games until the break, and then hopefully we’re sitting where we want to be.”
Colorado has three games left — all at home — before a nine-day break for All-Star Weekend. Makar, Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon will compete in the All-Star Game on Feb. 4 in Sunrise, Fla.
Tuesday night could be a memorable one for head coach Jared Bednar. He is currently tied with Michel Bergeron for most wins by a Quebec Nordiques/Avalanche coach with 265 and would grab the record with a victory Tuesday.
–Field Level Media