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Canadiens' Parenteau happy to be back in Denver

by Rick Sadowski / NHL.com

CANADIENS (16-7-2) at AVALANCHE (9-10-5)

TV: RDS, SNE, ALT

DENVER -- Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau will play against his former Colorado Avalanche teammates at Pepsi Center on Monday for the first time when the Montreal Canadiens open a three-game road trip.

Parenteau and Avalanche right wing Daniel Briere, who were traded for each other June 30, played at Bell Centre Oct. 18 in a 3-2 Canadiens win.

"I have some butterflies; I'm excited to be back," Parenteau said after the morning skate. "I had a really good time here, made a lot of good friends. It's going to be special tonight. We're playing some good hockey this year and I'm looking forward to this challenge."

Parenteau, who has six goals and five assists in 25 games, had dinner Sunday with former Colorado teammates Tyson Barrie, Jamie McGinn, John Mitchell and Ryan O'Reilly.

"I've been watching to see how my friends on the team were doing," he said. "I know [the Avalanche] haven't played to the level they're supposed to this year but they're a really good team. I know they have a lot of injuries. They'll figure it out."

In 2012-13 Parenteau led the Avalanche with 18 goals and tied Matt Duchene for the scoring lead with 43 points in 48 games after signing a four-year, $16 million contract as a free agent. But he slipped to 14 goals and 33 points in 55 games last season when he missed 25 games because of knee injuries and said the trade didn't surprise him.

"I kind of knew my days were numbered here after the year," he said. "It's a business nowadays. I'm really happy where I am right now. It couldn't work any better for me. I'm playing for the Montreal Canadiens in my hometown so I couldn't ask for a better scenario. I'm really, really happy right now."

Briere has five goals and one assist in 17 games, but three goals in the past five games. He played in the Avalanche's first 10 games and then was a healthy scratch for seven consecutive games before making his way back into the lineup.

"Things are coming around," he said. "I think I'm playing a lot better and having a chance to get back into the lineup. That was a motivation in itself. I'm trying to enjoy the way things are going and hope it stays like that for the rest of the season."

Briere said he's excited to play against the Canadiens again.

"It's a game where it's easy to find a motivation to get up for," he said. "I'm looking forward to it, but it doesn't really make it easier playing against guys you've battled with and went to war with in the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs not so long ago."

Here are the projected lineups:

CANADIENS

Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau

Alex Galchenyuk - Tomas Plekanec - Brendan Gallagher

Brandon Prust - Lars Eller - Jiri Sekac

Eric Tangradi - Manny Malhotra - Dale Weise

Andrei Markov - P.K. Subban

Sergei Gonchar - Alexei Emelin

Tom Gilbert - Mike Weaver

Carey Price

Dustin Tokarski

Scratched: Bryan Allen

Injured: Michael Bournival (shoulder)

AVALANCHE

Alex Tanguay - Matt Duchene - Ryan O'Reilly

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Jarome Iginla

Maxime Talbot - Michael Sgarbossa - Daniel Briere

Cody McLeod - Colin Smith - Tomas Vincour

Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson

Nate Guenin - Tyson Barrie

Nick Holden - Zach Redmond

Calvin Pickard

Reto Berra

Scratched: None

Injured: Patrick Bordeleau (back surgery), Marc-Andre Cliche (oblique), Dennis Everberg (separated shoulder), Jamie McGinn (back), John Mitchell (leg), Ben Street (hand), Brad Stuart (hamstring), Semyon Varlamov (groin), Ryan Wilson (shoulder), Jesse Winchester (concussion)

Status report: Sgarbossa and Smith were recalled by the Avalanche from the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League on Sunday after Mitchell and Cliche were injured Saturday against the Dallas Stars. ... Varlamov, who sustained a groin injury Nov. 15, has resumed practicing and is expected to be activated from injured reserve Wednesday and start Thursday against the Calgary Flames.

Who's hot: Price has a 6-2-0 record in his past eight starts while allowing two goals or fewer in six of them ... Landeskog has three goals and five assists in the past six games ... Duchene has four goals and two assists in the past seven games ... MacKinnon has seven assists in the past five games.

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