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Morning Skate Report: Colorado Aims to Bring Same Game to Ottawa

The Avalanche was finally rewarded for its efforts in the previous game against Toronto

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

OTTAWA, Ontario--The Colorado Avalanche is following the old adage of if it's not broke, don't fix it.

Colorado won't make any changes to its lineup for tonight's contest at the Ottawa Senators after playing one of its stronger games of the season last time out on Monday versus the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Avs outshot the Leafs 38-20 and came back from a two-goal deficit to win 6-3.

"The result is the main thing that was important for us, and we weren't getting it. But we came back to work every day and got back to work every day, and that is something I thought we did in Toronto," said veteran forward Matt Calvert. "We got down 2-0 again but battled through it. We were positive on the bench and no one gave up."

Despite playing decent games and outshooting its previous three opponents by a combined 104-68 margin, the Avalanche was finally rewarded with a win versus the Maple Leafs, ending a three-game losing streak.

Video: Matt Calvert talks about facing the Senators

Head coach Jared Bednar noted after the Avs' morning skate today at Canadian Tire Centre that he liked the resiliency his team showed after getting down on the scoreboard and how the players were tenacious on pucks both offensively and defensively.

"Those are keys that we've been talking about for quite some time, but we were on our toes and we were skating and trying to be first to pucks all over the rink and it paid off in our favor," Bednar said of the win at Toronto. "Hopefully we can do that again, mirror that game and improve on that game from the other night."

Ottawa has a 17-24-5 record and 39 points on the season, but the team did a lot of good things on its recent three-game California swing. The Senators picked up victories in Anaheim and Los Angeles before closing the trip with a 4-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks.

Video: Avs coach Jared Bednar before the game in Ottawa

"They got a lot of skill up front, but they have some guys that can jump in from the backend too. They've been scoring a lot of goals back there," said Tyson Barrie of the Sens. "We got to be aware of them jumping into the play."

Thomas Chabot is one of the offensive-minded defensemen that Barrie was referring to, as he has 38 points (10 goals and 28 assists) in 38 games this year. Chabot could make his return to the Sens' lineup this evening after missing the past eight outings with an injury.

"Obviously we don't get to see him a ton, but we get to see him on highlights," said Barrie, who also has an offensive style to his game with 33 points (five goals and 28 assists) on the campaign. "He's having a great year, and he's obviously a gifted defenseman. It's cool to see."

Video: Tyson Barrie on facing the Senators

Goalie Semyon Varlamov is expected to make his fourth straight start in net for Colorado, while Gabriel Bourque, Ryan Graves and Patrik Nemeth are the probable healthy scratches.

The Avalanche's forward line combinations, which were changed for the game in Toronto, are expected to be the same.

GETTING HEALTHY

For the first time since the end of November, the Avs can now ice a mostly healthy roster.

Forward Vladislav Kamenev is still out indefinitely from shoulder surgery and defenseman Patrik Nemeth is in the latter stages of recovery from an illness, but the team's lineup is currently much more similar to what it was at the start of the year.

For Nemeth, he has now skated for three consecutive days and could be an option for the Avalanche when the club returns home for a three-game set at Pepsi Center before the All-Star Break.

During the road trip, Mark Barberio (upper body), Colin Wilson (upper body) and Nikita Zadorov (lower body) have all returned to action from their respective ailments.

"It's big. Games are so tight and teams are so close. Every night you got to come in and play your best to win. Veteran players, they bring something to your team," Bednar said of having the three players back in the team's lineup.

Entering tonight, Colorado has lost 105 man-games to injury this season.

VIEW: Avalanche Projected Lineup at Ottawa Senators
 

ONE MORE TO GO

This evening's contest is the final stop for the Avalanche on a season-long, 10-day road trip that made stops in five Canadian cities.

After dropping the first three contests in Winnipeg, Calgary and Montreal, Colorado aims to head home with back-to-back wins in Toronto and, hopefully, Ottawa.

"Obviously it was a disappointing start to the trip," Barrie said. "It would be nice to end this road trip off with a nice win."

While being away from family for more than a week can be a grind for the players, the Avs have tried to use the time to get rest when possible and build more team camaraderie at the rink.

"If you're losing, it never makes it easier, it always makes it a little tougher mentally," Bednar said. "We try and keep our guys refreshed any way we can, whether that is a little rest, some time away from the rink, try and be a little lighter when we come here (to the rink), make sure they're still having fun. I think it is really important. Happy hockey players are productive hockey players. You try to keep it that way and turn the page on any given night."

The Avs' game in Canada's national capital will mark the 27th of 41 it will play away from Colorado this year. The team will make only one other trip to the Eastern Conference this season after tonight, playing at Washington, New York Islanders and Boston from Feb. 7-10.

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