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Pickard To Make Sixth Straight Start

The Avalanche netminder will get the nod against the Calgary Flames

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

CALGARY, Alberta--Calvin Pickard has been the Colorado Avalanche's workhorse in net recently, and the goaltender will once again get the call to guard the pipes.

Pickard will make his sixth consecutive start on Tuesday as the Avs close a two-game Western Canadian swing against the Calgary Flames. The last time the Winnipeg, Manitoba, native started six straight games was Dec. 9-21, 2014.

While the team hasn't been able to pick up many victories as of late with Pickard in the crease, Colorado head coach Jared Bednar was pleased with the 21-save performance that the 24-year-old displayed on Monday night in the 3-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks.

"I think he's been a little bit hot and cold for us, but I really liked his game last night for us," Bednar said. "I thought after a couple rough outings and some tough breaks at home that last night he really settled in and kind of got back to his game. Made a lot of big saves for us and kept us in that hockey game and gave us a chance to win."

Pickard has played in 11 of the past 13 contests, starting every game while Semyon Varlamov has been out with a groin injury. Varlamov didn't make the trip to Canada, as he stayed back in Denver to continue rehabbing. Jeremy Smith has been serving as the backup netminder.

Despite playing the night before in Vancouver, the Avalanche practiced for an hour on Tuesday afternoon at the Scotiabank Saddledome. The Avs used the same line combinations as in Monday's contest, and Bednar confirmed those will be the groupings against the Flames.

Defenseman Eric Gelinas was not on the ice for the session and is listed day to day with a lower-body injury. He won't play on Monday.

"He took a shot a couple games ago, and it looks like it is giving him a little more trouble now than it was a couple days ago," Bednar said.

Joining Gelinas on Wednesday's scratched list will be forward Andreas Martinsen, according to Bednar. Martinsen also didn't play in the contest against Vancouver.

Coming to Calgary is a homecoming of sorts for Colorado forwards Jarome Iginla and Joe Colborne.

While Iginla was born in Edmonton, he played his first 15-plus NHL seasons with the Flames and is the franchise's all-time leader in points (1,095), goals (525) and games played (1,219).

"Lots of great memories, and I think it always will be (special to come here)," Iginla said. "Not as strange each time. First it is quite an adjustment, and [I've got] more comfortable with each time. But always fun to come back, for sure."

Colborne was born in Calgary and spent the previous three seasons with the Flames. Tuesday was his first real experience as a visiting player at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

"It's exciting. It's a little weird seeing everyone after it's been awhile," Colborne said. "It will be a lot of fun tomorrow. I'll get to see some old friends, and we'll have a good time."

Wednesday's contest will be the second of three meetings between these old Northwest Division rivals. Calgary won the first contest 6-3 last Tuesday in Denver. Game time is set for 8 p.m. MT.

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