(SportsNetwork.com) – The Colorado Avalanche hope to carry their recent surge
into December as they open a new month against the sliding Montreal Canadiens
in Monday’s battle at Pepsi Center.
The Avalanche won only four times in their first 17 games of the season, but
Colorado has exceeded that win total during its recent 5-2-0 stretch. The hot
stretch has last season’s Central Division champions on the cusp of .500 with
a 9-10-5 record in 2014-15.
Colorado hopes to keep heading in the right direction Monday when the
Canadiens visit Denver trying to snap a three-game losing streak. Montreal is
0-2-1 during the slide and hasn’t lost four straight since Jan. 18-25 of last
Tonight’s tilt marks the fourth time Colorado’s Patrick Roy is facing his old
team as a head coach. Roy, of course, led Montreal to a pair of Stanley Cup
titles in 1986 and 1993 — the franchise’s last championship — before winning
two more championships with the Avalanche in 1996 and 2001.
Roy’s Avs posted a 4-1 home win over the Habs on Nov. 2 of last season, but
Montreal answered with two straight home wins, including a 3-2 regulation
victory on Oct. 18.
The Avalanche have dominated the Canadiens in Denver since moving to Colorado
from Quebec City following the 1994-95 season, going 8-1-0 with a tie in the
10 all-time meetings in the Mile High City.
Colorado is 1-1-0 on a three-game homestand that ends tonight. The Avs opened
the set with a 3-2 loss to Chicago, but bounced back with Saturday’s 5-2 win
over the Dallas Stars.
Alex Tanguay recorded a goal and two assists to help the Avs skate past the
Stars. Tanguay has record at least one point in seven of his last nine games
and has four goals and five assists during that stretch.
“It feels good,” said Tanguay. “We’ve been working extremely hard, we’re
trying to get better.”
Matt Duchene, Jarome Iginla, Danny Briere and Gabriel Landeskog added tallies
for the Avalanche. Tyson Barrie picked up three assists and Calvin Pickard
stopped 22 shots for the victory.
Pickard, a 22-year-old rookie, has earned the win in Colorado’s last three
victories and will get the start again tonight. No. 1 goaltender Semyon
Varlamov has sat out the last five games with a groin injury, but could return
in the next game for the Avs when they visit Calgary on Thursday.
After suffering consecutive regulation losses, Montreal was able to earn a
point in Saturday’s shootout loss against visiting Buffalo. The Canadiens were
swept by the Sabres in a home-and-home series despite entering the set with a
19-point lead over Buffalo in the standings.
The Sabres notched a 2-1 win over the Habs on Friday and recorded a 4-3
triumph the following night. Buffalo’s Brian Flynn tied the game late in the
third period to force overtime and produced the lone goal of the shootout.
After each team’s first four shootout participants were unsuccessful, Tomas
Plekanec followed suit for Montreal as Jhonas Enroth calmly turned aside his
offering with a stick save. Flynn then put an end to the skills competition
with a shot into an open net off a slick backhand-forehand deke past a sliding
Brendan Gallagher, Max Pacioretty and Lars Eller all lit the lamp for
Montreal, while Tokarski made 23 saves in defeat.
Just before the game, the Canadiens announced they had signed Gallagher to a
six-year, $22.5 million extension. The 22-year-old has picked up five goals
and 12 points in 24 games this season and has 39 goals and 81 points over 149
“I’m really fortunate to be able to play in Montreal. This city is awesome,”
Gallagher told his team’s website.
Carey Price expects to start for the Canadiens tonight. The No. 1 netminder is
13-5-1 this season and owns a lifetime 2-2-1 record and 3.18 goals against
average in five career games against the Avs.
Montreal is kicking off a four-game road trip tonight and is 7-4-1 as the
visiting team this season.