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Avs continue road trip at Columbus

by Deborah Francisco /
AVALANCHE (1-1-0) at BLUE JACKETS (0-3-0)

TV: None
Season Series: This is the first of four meetings between these Western Conference foes. Last season, Colorado won three of the four tilts, including a 5-4 shootout victory in the last meeting on March 22. Matt Duchene and R.J. Umberger each had a pair of goals in that contest.
Big Story: Columbus is seeking its first win of the season after losing its first three games and will be channeling all of its efforts into gaining those first two points against a Colorado team that proved itself in a big way on Monday afternoon with a shutout against the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.
Team Scope:
Avalanche: After being blanked in its home opener last weekend, Colorado certainly made a statement with its 1-0 victory over the Bruins on Monday afternoon. The game in Boston was Colorado's first of five road games in a seven-day stretch, so the two points in Boston were exactly the start that Colorado was looking for.
"We've had two tough challenges to start the season," center Paul Stastny said. "It's easy to get up for these games, especially playing a team like this - the defending champs."
The burden of Monday's victory fell on the shoulders of 23-year-old netminder, Semyon Varlamov, who stopped 30 shots to earn his fifth career shutout. Last season, Varlamov was fighting for a full-time starting spot in Washington against rookies Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby, but Varlamov was acquired by Colorado at the beginning of free agency and Monday's shutout was his first win with the Avalanche.
Milan Hejduk notched Colorado's lone goal with his third-period tally.
Blue Jackets: Although the Blue Jackets have yet to win a game this season, they played arguably their best 40 minutes of the season so far in the first two periods of Monday's contest against the Vancouver Canucks. The Blue Jackets entered the third period with a 2-1 lead and nearly made it 3-1 with a penalty shot attempt that Maksim Mayorov failed to convert and Vancouver then scored twice for a 3-2 win.
 "I thought we played a good 40 minutes," Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash said. "(In the) third period, it seemed like they turned it up a little more and we stayed the same."
The culprit in Columbus, according to coach Scott Arniel, was special teams. The Jackets were 0-for-5 on the man advantage against Vancouver and allowed the game-winning goal on a power play.
"Special teams are key in the NHL nowadays," left wing Vinny Prospal said. "We haven't scored one power-play goal in the three games and (Vancouver) had one (Monday), and it ended up being a winner."
Who's Hot: Varlamov stopped 30 shots to earn his fifth career shutouts against the Bruins on Monday. … In Columbus, Prospal was awarded second star of the game honors for his performance against the Canucks. He has two goals in three games.
Injury Report: The Avalanche have placed forward Mark Olver (head) and forward Brandon Yip (arm) on injured reserve.
Stat Pack: This is the first time in franchise history that the Blue Jackets have failed to win one of their first three games of the season.
Puck Drop: "For a young team like us, it's good to get to know each other and do some team bonding, like going out to dinner," Jean-Sebastien Giguere told "If we can get some points on the road, it should give us some good confidence."

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