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Avalanche Opens Four-Game Road Swing In Pittsburgh

Colorado takes on the defending Stanley Cup champions

by Danielle Bernstein @danibernstein /

With opening night now just a memory, the Colorado Avalanche moves onto its next challenge, a four-game road trip that begins in Pittsburgh on Monday.

Colorado will play four games in six days during a tough Eastern Conference swing that includes matchups with the defending Stanley Cup champions (Pittsburgh), the Presidents' Trophy winners (Washington), a team that has reached the Conference Final in each of the last two seasons (Tampa Bay) and the Atlantic Division champions (Florida).

Monday's game also begins the first of 11 back-to-back sets for the Avalanche this season and the first of five road games in the month of October.

"It's a big test for us. The focus [in the season opener] was we wanted to bring our best in front of our home crowd. I thought they were excellent [on Saturday]. Lots of energy, and our guys fed off that," said head coach Jared Bednar. "Now going on the road, it's a different test. First time going out as a group, playing some of the best teams out east, and we just have to break it down and go one game at a time. Our goal is that we expect to win every night. We're not looking at the road trip as a whole. We're going into every game with the expectation that we're going to play our best hockey and try to win."

The Avalanche is 16-7-3-3 against the Penguins since moving to Denver prior to the 1995-96 season, which included a seven-game win streak that spanned almost four years, from Jan. 13, 2000 to Jan. 24, 2004. Colorado is 9-4-1-1 on the road in the all-time series.

Matt Duchene scored three goals in two games against Pittsburgh last season to lead all Avs skaters, and defenseman Erik Johnson is Colorado's all-time leader (since the 1995-96 season) in blocked shots against the Penguins.

Video: Altitude TV takes a look at Colorado-Pittsburgh

After letting up five goals Saturday night, tied for the most opening-night tallies allowed in Avalanche history (since the 1995-96 season), Bednar wasn't concerned about the defense, noting that the errors he saw were all things that are correctable.

"The mistakes that I felt that might have cost us were up-ice. [Yesterday] we worked on our forecheck and our neutral-zone forecheck, just to make sure we're not having any breakdowns up there that would lead to odd-man rushes against," the Avalanche coach said.

Calvin Pickard is expected to start in net, making his first appearance of the 2016-17 season and second of his career against Pittsburgh. Pickard was in net for the Avalanche's 1-0 overtime loss to the Penguins on Dec. 18, 2014. Despite stopping 47 of the 48 shots he faced, Blake Comeau, who's only season as a member of the Pens was the 2014-15 campaign, scored the game-winner.

Outside of the goaltender position, the lineup is expected to remain largely the same from opening night. Puck drop is slated for 5 p.m. MT and the game can be watched live on Altitude.

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