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Avs Look to Eclipse Best Home Start

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Who ever said home-ice advantage is overrated?

The Colorado Avalanche will search for a franchise-record seventh consecutive home victory to open the season when they welcome the Vancouver Canucks to Denver on Saturday. With Thursday’s win over Pittsburgh, the Avalanche tied the franchise record with a 6-0 start on home ice, equaling a mark set by the 1994-95 Quebec Nordiques at Le Colisee.

The feat is all the more impressive when you factor in the successful history of the franchise.

“I guess records are always there as a mark to shoot for,” said Avs defenseman Kurt Sauer. “The big thing is getting that confidence at home. It’s always good to come into your own barn feeling good and to be able to come out with a win.”

But as Avs forward Ryan Smyth is quick to point out, the club will need to build off that great start for the streak to mean something in the long run.

“There’s no question it’s an unbelievable start,” said Smyth. “But sometimes it’s not how you start, but how you finish. We’ll feed off the wins we’ve got here at home and let people know around the league that it’s a tough place to come play.”

The Avalanche and the Philadelphia Flyers (4-0) are the only two NHL teams that remain undefeated at home. With a current winning streak of four games, the Avalanche ranks first in the Northwest Division and holds down the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference through Thursday’s games, posting an 8-4-0 record for 16 points.

On Thursday night against Pittsburgh, the Avalanche was forced to come back from another early deficit, a position that they’ve found themselves in on a few occasions this season. The club stormed back from a 2-0 first period hole, scoring three goals within a span of 3:30 and holding the lead down the stretch to earn a 3-2 victory at Pepsi Center.

However dramatic and entertaining those comebacks may be for the viewing audience, it’s not a position the Avalanche hopes to be in too often.

“You never want to be behind the eight ball. We’ve been in that position a little too often this year and that’s probably something we have to focus on,” said defenseman Kurt Sauer. “But our goalies have been coming up with big saves and keeping us in the game at the start of the games, so that’s been a big positive for us.”

Budaj to Start Saturday
Avalanche Head Coach Joel Quenneville announced following Friday’s practice that Peter Budaj will get the starting nod for Saturday’s tilt against Vancouver. So far this season, Budaj has posted a 5-2 record with a .900 save percentage and a 2.82 goals-against average.

Loose Pucks
The Avs are 4-1-0 in Northwest Division play this season…Colorado’s power-play is converting at a 22.6% clip (7-of-31) at home, the seventh best mark in the league…The Avalanche is one of only eight teams in the league that hasn’t surrendered a short handed goal this season.
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