(SportsNetwork.com) – The Colorado Avalanche will try to post consecutive
victories for the first time this season when they visit the New Jersey Devils
for Saturday’s battle at Prudential Center.
The Avalanche jumped out to a 14-2-0 record last season en route to winning
the Central Division title, but things haven’t come so easy for Colorado in
Patrick Roy’s club is just 5-8-5 on the season, but it has a chance to build
some momentum Saturday in the final test of a four-game road trip. Colorado
lost to Philadelphia and the New York Islanders to begin the swing before
recording Thursday’s shootout victory over the New York Rangers.
If the Avalanche can pick up another victory tonight in the Garden State, it
will mark Colorado’s first winning streak since downing Edmonton and Vancouver
in consecutive games on April 8 and 10 of last season.
The Avs downed the Rangers by a 4-3 score on Thursday with Alex Tanguay
scoring the decisive shootout goal for the visitors. Tanguay hit the post late
in overtime, but he wasn’t denied in the tiebreaker. The third shooter for
Colorado, Tanguay faked a shot to get New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist
down and roofed the puck.
Semyon Varlamov, who made two saves in the final three seconds of regulation,
then stopped Lee Stempniak as Colorado celebrated just its second win in
Matt Duchene scored and assisted on Tanguay’s goal, while Varlamov finished
with 30 saves.
Nathan MacKinnon tied the game with a power-play goal in the third period for
the Avalanche, who rebounded from Tuesday’s 6-0 setback against the Islanders.
MacKinnon, last season’s Calder Trophy winner, was dropped to the third line
for Thursday’s tilt.
“He had a great chance just before on the power play,” Roy said of MacKinnon’s
goal. “Sometimes you put pucks on net, and you get rewarded. It doesn’t always
have to be perfect shots.”
Colorado improved to 2-5-3 on the road this season. The club will play five of
its next six games on home ice, beginning with Thursday’s encounter with
The Avs won both meetings against New Jersey last season, taking both
encounters after regulation. Colorado has won five of the past six in this
series overall and has claimed two of the last three road meetings.
New Jersey will try to match its longest win streak of the season when it aims
for a third straight victory tonight. The Devils opened the season 3-0, but
has won two in a row only twice since that quick start.
After notching a 3-1 home win over Minnesota on Tuesday, the Devils earned
Friday’s 1-0 decision in Washington. Cory Schneider made 30 saves to anchor
the Devils in the road win over the Capitals.
Schneider, who was pulled after giving up five goals in a 6-2 loss in the
Devils’ last trip to Verizon Center on Oct. 16, registered his first shutout
of the season and 13th of his career.
Mike Cammalleri supplied the lone goal for New Jersey.
“I thought that was a real solid 60 minute effort,” said New Jersey head coach
Peter DeBoer. “Our goaltender was excellent; penalty kill was very good,
that’s more along the lines of our identity as a team.”
The Devils may go with Schneider in net again tonight, as the netminder has
started all 17 games for the club this season. Backup Keith Kinkaid has
appeared in three NHL games in his brief career, but has yet to start a game.
Schneider is 6-1-3 with a 1.58 goals against average in 11 career games versus
the Avalanche, while Varlamov is 2-1-0 with a 1.64 GAA against New Jersey.