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Canadiens-Avalanche Preview @NHLdotcom
Canadiens-Avalanche Preview

GAME: Montreal Canadiens (19-15-6) at Colorado Avalanche (24-17-3).

TIME: Wednesday, 9 p.m. EST.

The Colorado Avalanche can't hope for much more from rookie Marek Svatos.

Yet with starting center Pierre Turgeon now sidelined, the Avalanche will turn to their star rookie to fill in the holes and lead them to a season-high sixth straight win when they host the Montreal Canadiens.

The Avalanche learned Monday that Turgeon - a 500-goal scorer - will be sidelined for at least three weeks with a strained shoulder.

Turgeon, who is fourth on the team in points and third in assists, initially thought he would only miss a couple of games after suffering the injury during the first period of Saturday's 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

He becomes the latest Colorado veteran to move to the injury list, joining Steve Konowalchuk (wrist surgery) and Brad May (groin) and putting more pressure on Svatos to perform well.

In Monday's game against the St. Louis Blues, Svatos lived up to any added pressure, recording his second three-goal game in the 6-1 routing.

"It's the best feeling for a forward," Svatos said. "It was one of those nights that, for me, everything went in. I had three shots and three goals."

Svatos has five goals in three games, 25 for the season and four multi-goal games. He had his first hat trick Oct. 10 against the Calgary Flames.

His numbers are comparable with rookie standouts Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals and Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Ovechkin and Svatos are tied for the goal-scoring lead among rookies, four more than Crosby.

"It is a special crop of rookies this year and I think everybody has a strong case with how well they are playing and the consideration they are getting," Colorado coach Joel Quennville said. "Being aware of Svatos on a regular basis, he is deserving of some attention and consideration based on how consistent he has been.'

Goalie David Aebischer stopped 27 shots for Colorado, which has its longest winning streak since notching six straight wins from Jan. 30-Feb. 11, 2003.

Montreal is looking for its first road win against the Avalanche franchise since Jan. 5, 1994 when they were the Quebec Nordiques. The Canadiens have gone 0-6-3 since then.

Montreal snapped a four-game skid when it scored four goals in the first period of a 4-1 win Saturday over the Ottawa Senators.

Radek Bonk, who spent 10 seasons with Ottawa before a three-way trade sent him to Montreal following the 2003-04 season, ended a scoring drought by scoring his first goal in 44 regular-season games.

"It's always like that, I guess, especially against my former team and in a win, too," Bonk said of the relief involved in his celebration. "The win's more important but obviously I'm happy it went in for me."

Mathieu Dandenault, Saku Koivu and Francis Bouillon also scored for the Canadiens, who chased away Senators goalie Ray Emery after he only faced 11 shots.

STANDINGS: Canadiens - 44 points, 4th place, 17 PB, Northeast Division. Avalanche - 51 points, 4th place, 4 PB, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Canadiens - Michael Ryder, 18 goals; Saku Koivu, 21 assists and 31 points; Steve Begin, 89 PIM. Avalanche - Svatos, 25 goals; Alex Tanguay, 33 assists and 51 points; Ian Laperriere, 70 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Canadiens - Power play: 17.6 percent (42 for 239), 15th in NHL (tied). Penalty killing: 81 percent (204 for 252), 20th. Avalanche - Power play: 20.3 percent (55 for 271), 5th. Penalty killing: 85.4 percent (216 for 253), 3rd (tied).

GOALTENDERS: Canadiens - Jose Theodore (14-11-5, 0 SO, 3.22 GAA); Cristobal Huet (2-2-1, 0, 3.15). Avalanche - Aebischer (15-9-0, 2, 3.19); Peter Budaj (6-5-3, 0, 2.80).

2003-04 SERIES: 1-0-0.

LAST MEETING: March 16, 2004; Canadiens, 4-2. At Montreal, Koivu and Mike Ribeiro each scored in the third period to snap a tie. Rob Blake and Chris Gratton scored for the Avalanche.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Canadiens - 7-9-4 on the road; Avalanche - 13-6-3 at home.

Associated Press
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