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Avs Look For Repeat Performance vs. Canucks

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

If it seems like the Colorado Avalanche just played the Vancouver Canucks at Pepsi Center, that's because the team did.

The Canucks were in Denver just 11 days ago, and tonight they'll make their final trip to Colorado before the clubs meet again March 26 in Vancouver.

In that first game on Oct. 24, the Canucks scored just 10 seconds into the contest but the Avs were able to ride the wave and ran away with a 7-3 victory. The Avalanche's seven goals and 48 shots-on-goal that night were both season highs, and also equaled the club’s largest output in both categories from last season

Six different Avs players scored in that contest and three finished with three-point games, but the Canucks were playing the second of a back-to-back—coming off a 4-1 victory in St. Louis the night before—and they have played well since the loss. Vancouver had won four games in a row before falling 3-1 to the Nashville Predators on Sunday.

"We know Vancouver is a good team," said Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog. "Made some changes over the summer, but they are still a first-class team. They have some really good players on that team. We know that, with the Sedin brothers, [Alexander] Edler, [Radim] Vrbata. We certainly know they are going to come out hard, and they'll be hungry after that last one."

The victory in the first game of the series was one of the Avalanche's best performances of the season, and the team helped build on it with strong outings the next week. The Avs went on to collect points in each of their next four games and had a six-game point streak going until Sunday against Anaheim.

"I thought we were sharp in that game," Colorado head coach Patrick Roy said of the first meeting against the Canucks. "They were coming from a back-to-back game. We were aware of that. They had a big win in St. Louis the night before, but at the same time I thought we played really well that game."

This evening's contest in an opportunity for the Avs to get back on the track and get the bad taste out of their mouths from last Sunday's game.

The Avs lost a close 3-2 contest to the Ducks, but many parts in the second half of that game didn't seem nearly that close. Colorado only had two shots on goal in the second period, and many players have said that was where the team lost the game.

"It was a pretty poor effort by us on Sunday, especially in that second," said forward Nathan MacKinnon, who also mentioned that he's one the players that need to be better for the club. "Being up 2-1 going into the second, we're not going to play our best game every night, but if we don't play our best we can't play our worst. We don't want to fall into a complete sleep like we did in that second period."

Except for the first two against the Minnesota Wild, the Avs have had a chance to win every game they have lost. Seven of Colorado's losses have been by one goal and five were decided in overtime or a shootout.

Another victory against the Canucks and one more on Thursday against the Maple Leafs to close out the current homestand could go a long way in helping the Avalanche build some confidence and start climbing in the standings.

And as cliché as it sounds, a good start and the team playing its first full '60-minute game' tonight might do the trick.

"We've had spurts and good periods here and there, but we still haven't put a full 60 minutes together," Landeskog said. "That is what we are looking to do tonight, and make sure we are ready off the get go."

STARTING WITH WHAT WORKED

Roy mixed up his lines several times during the Anaheim game, and he said today after morning skate that he will stick with the combinations that the team finished with. That means Matt Duchene will center a line with Landeskog and MacKinnon, and center Ryan O'Reilly will be in the middle of wingers Jamie McGinn and Jarome Iginla.

One line combination that stayed put against the Ducks was the John Mitchell-centered line with wingers Alex Tanguay and Dennis Everberg, and it will once again remain unchanged.

"The line with Mitchell, they have played so well the last two games," Roy said. "We'll continue to use them together."

The fourth line includes center Marc-Andre Cliche and wingers Cody McLeod and Maxime Talbot, as Roy said he wouldn't make and additions or subtractions to his lineup.

There will be no changes with the defensive pairings, and Semyon Varlamov will be in goal for the seventh consecutive game.

Projected lineup:

Gabriel LandeskogMatt DucheneNathan MacKinnon
Jamie McGinn
Ryan O'ReillyJarome Iginla
Alex Tanguay
John MitchellDennis Everberg
Cody McLeod
Marc-Andre ClicheMaxime Talbot

Jan HejdaErik Johnson
Nick Holden
Brad Stuart
Nate Guenin
Tyson Barrie

Semyon Varlamov
Reto Berra

MORE PREGAME NOTES

• Colorado/Quebec's 70 wins against Vancouver are tied for its most against any one opponent (also 70 wins vs. Carolina/Hartford).

• The Avs' 54 victories against the Canucks since moving to Denver are their second-most against an opponent (58 - Edmonton).

• The Avs enter tonight's game having killed off 25 straight opponent power-play opportunities. This marks the first time that Colorado has killed off 25 consecutive penalties since Jan. 22 - Feb. 4, 2010 (also 25). The last time the Avs posted a longer streak (single season) was Jan. 30 to March 6, 2002, when they killed off 28 in a row.

Ryan O'Reilly needs one point to reach 200 career points. O'Reilly has 199 points (75g/124a) in 358 games.

Nathan MacKinnon has scored a goal in each of his last three games, tying his career-long goal streak set Jan. 27 to Feb. 1, 2014. MacKinnon has four goals and five points over his last three contests.

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