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On The Road: Game Day In Toronto

Avs are in Canada's largest city to play the Maple Leafs

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

The Colorado Avalanche is on a three-game trip before the NHL All-Star Break over the weekend. The Avs makes their first journey to Canada with a back-to-back set against the Original Six Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens before finishing the trek in St. Louis against the division-rival Blues.

ColoradoAvalanche.com is writing and taking photos of the trip.


The first game of the Colorado Avalanche's three-game swing comes against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the team woke up in the hockey-crazed city to fog and drizzling rain outside. The wintery weather has been a theme so far on this trip after the club left snowy Denver the previous day.

After grabbing some breakfast, most of the players took the second bus to Air Canada Centre for morning skate and arrived at the rink a little after 10 a.m.

Following a team meeting, the Avs took the ice at 10:30 a.m. for their pregame practice and were greeted by a throng of media members watching from the stands.

This is Colorado's only trip to Canada's largest city, and the large media presence will be a common theme for the first two legs of the trip: today in Toronto and tomorrow in Montreal.

Three of the Avs' injured players were on the ice during morning skate: Sven Andrighetto (lower body), Tyson Barrie (hand) and Semyon Varlamov (lower body). Andrighetto and Barrie took part in drills, while Varlamov did his own work before having an individual session with goaltending coach Jussi Parkkila after the team skate.

The formal part of morning skate lasted 25 minutes, and as the Avalanche players trickled off the ice and headed to the locker room, they were greeted by the same Toronto media members.

Forward Nathan MacKinnon was the most popular players with the media due to the Canadian currently being second in the league in scoring with 59 points. He was also named the league's first star of the week at noon eastern time.

Video: Nathan MacKinnon discusses his season

Avs head coach Jared Bednar had one of his largest media scrums of the season as well.

Video: Avs coach Jared Bednar after morning skate in Toronto

Bednar said there wouldn't be any lineup chances, and that Andrighetto, Barrie and Varlamov are making progress in their recovery. Andrighetto and Barrie could return during the team's road trip, while Varlamov is still on track to comeback after this weekend's All-Star Break.

With the morning activities done, Colorado's team bus left the "ACC" at 12:42 p.m. and was back at the hotel 15 minutes later.

After their traditional pre-game meal, nap and snack, the Avs players loaded back up onto one of two charter buses and returned to the arena for the 7 p.m. game.

Due to traffic, the team buses took the "scenic" route, which was quicker instead of weaving its way through downtown during rush hour. The first bus left at 3:45 p.m. while the second departed at 4:30 p.m.

Just before 6:30 p.m. local time, the Avalanche players take the ice for warmup.

Mikko Rantanen did an interview with Altitude's Mike Haynes during warmup.

When the game finally began, the Avalanche once again took an early lead, the 10th straight outing in which the club found the back of the net first.

However, Colorado did face some adversity as back-to-back tallies by Toronto marked the first time that the visitors of the evening had trailed during their win streak. Though, that only lasted for 1:34 as Nail Yakupov tied the contest soon after for the Avalanche.

Blake Comeau ended up finishing with the game-winner off a redirection and Gabriel Landeskog scored into an empty net in the final minute of play to give the Avs the 4-2 victory, extending their winning streak to 10 games.

Colorado goalie Jonathan Bernier finished with 29 saves in his first trip back to Toronto after playing three seasons with the Maple Leafs.

As the players came off the ice, three of them were pulled aside to do media interviews. Carl Soderberg chatted with Altitude Sports Radio play-by-play man Marc Moser, while Comeau talked with Altitude TV's Lauren Gardner and Bernier with SportsNet's Shawn McKenzie.

It was a joyous but not-satisfied locker room after the contest, with the team still knowing there was much more work to be done on the road trip and in the standings. Comeau chatted with Avalanche TV about it.

Video: Blake Comeau after the Avs' 10th straight win

The next game for the Avs is at Montreal, which is just a short plane ride up to Quebec. However, the club still hurried to leave Toronto due to weather.

While it was just wet rain falling in Toronto, there was freezing rain in Montreal, making for possibly treacherous trips for both planes and buses.

There ended up being no issues on Colorado's journey Montreal, but the Avalanche experienced the freezing rain first hand as the stairs from the plane were especially icy.

When the team finally arrived at its Montreal hotel, all the players grabbed their room keys, a snack and their workout clothes to help prepare for the next day's contest versus the Canadiens. The Avs won't have a morning skate at Bell Centre and will instead have a stretch and meeting at the hotel.

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