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Daily Primer Oct. 12: Avs strive for five

by John Kreiser

The Colorado Avalanche had never started a season with more than three consecutive victories since the franchise moved from Quebec to Denver in 1995. As they enter Saturday's game against the Washington Capitals, they're already 4-0-0, and a victory would match the 1994-95 Nordiques' franchise mark of five wins in a row at the start of a season.

The Avalanche and San Jose Sharks, who host the Ottawa Senators, are the only teams who take a 4-0-0 record into the second weekend of the season. The St. Louis Blues are the other unbeaten team at 3-0-0.

Here's a look at the action on Saturday's schedule:

Boston Bruins at Columbus Blue Jackets -- It's matinee hockey at Nationwide Arena, where the Blue Jackets should get a warm welcome after winning road games against the New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres. Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky has played all three games for the Blue Jackets this season, allowing seven goals and winning twice. Boston is coming off a 2-0 loss to the Avalanche on Thursday, a game the Bruins lost despite getting 39 shots on goal. Ex-Bruin Nathan Horton, who signed with Columbus during the summer, is still not ready to face his old team; he's recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

Edmonton Oilers at Toronto Maple Leafs -- The Oilers begin a tough six-game Eastern swing after losing three of their first four games. They were whipped 4-1 at home by the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, allowing four unanswered goals after scoring first; they've gotten the first goal in each of their losses and earned their only victory by overcoming a 3-0 deficit against the New Jersey Devils. Jonathan Bernier is going to make it tough for coach Randy Carlyle to take him out of the lineup; he was flawless again on Thursday, stopping all 36 shots he faced in a 4-0 road win against the Nashville Predators.

Philadelphia Flyers at Detroit Red Wings -- The Flyers changed coaches this week, but firing Peter Laviolette and replacing him with Craig Berube hasn't helped the offense. Philadelphia beat the Florida Panthers 2-1 in Berube's debut on Tuesday but come to Joe Louis Arena after a 2-1 home loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Friday night. The Red Wings are also coming off a home loss to the Coyotes, who came to Detroit on Thursday and left with a 4-2 win. Center Luke Glendening will make his NHL debut as Detroit coach Mike Babcock shakes up his lines.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Tampa Bay Lightning -- The Penguins are missing veteran backup goaltender Tomas Vokoun; newcomer Jeff Zatkoff allowed six goals in a 6-3 loss to the Florida Panthers on Friday. Marc-Andre Fleury figures to be back in goal against the Lightning after allowing three goals while winning his first three starts. The Lightning have won three in a row after losing their opener in Boston, but they'll be without goaltender Ben Bishop (lower body), the winning goaltender in all three of those games.

Colorado Avalanche at Washington Capitals -- The Capitals drafted both Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth in 2006; Varlamov figures to start against his old team for the first time since Washington dealt him to Colorado in the summer of 2011. The Avalanche have scored two goals in each of their past two games, but that was enough to win 2-1 at Toronto and 2-0 at Boston. The Capitals have 12 goals, including five by Alex Ovechkin, but they've lost three of four and are playing with fire. They overcame a 2-8-1 start last season to win the Southeast Division, but the new Metropolitan Division will be a lot tougher.

Buffalo Sabres at Chicago Blackhawks -- NHL Network viewers in the U.S. can tune in to see if the Sabres can snap their season-opening victory drought. Buffalo is 0-4-1 and is coming off a 4-1 home loss to Columbus on Thursday. The Sabres are averaging one goal a game. Chicago beat the New York Islanders 3-2 on Friday and will try to sweep its only set of back-to-back home games this season. Corey Crawford is expected to be in goal after Nikolai Khabibulin made 17 saves to beat New York.

New York Islanders at Nashville Predators -- Nashville may be a fun stop for country music fans, but it's not a great stopover for the Islanders; they've lost their last five visits to Bridgestone Arena. The 3-2 loss at Chicago was their first regulation defeat. Evgeni Nabokov is slated to play in goal after backup Kevin Poulin faced the Blackhawks. Nashville has scored all of six goals this season; three of them came in the first period of the Predators' lone victory against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday -- and none came in a 4-0 loss to Toronto on Thursday.

New York Rangers at St. Louis Blues -- The "Rangers across North America" tour continues with a stop in just about the last place a slumping team would want to visit. New York is playing its fourth game in six days, and it's coming off a 6-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday that came two days after a 9-2 wipeout at the hands of the San Jose Sharks. While the Rangers reach the halfway point of their season-opening nine-game road trip, the Blues are getting ready for the fourth of a five-game homestand that has been nothing but successful: They are 3-0-0 after beating Chicago 3-2 on Wednesday when Alexander Steen scored with 21.1 seconds left in regulation.

Dallas Stars at Minnesota Wild -- The Stars earned two points but lost their starting goaltender Friday night during a 4-1 road victory against the Winnipeg Jets. Kari Lehtonen left with a lower-body injury after Tyler Seguin's two goals and two assists helped Dallas build a 4-0 lead. Dan Ellis finished up and is likely to play against Minnesota. The Wild are also coming off a victory against the Jets; they beat Winnipeg 2-1 on Thursday.

Montreal Canadiens at Vancouver Canucks -- The Canadiens have split the first two games of a trip through Western Canada that ends in Winnipeg on Tuesday. Montreal is 4-0-1 in its last five games against the Canucks and 76-27-13-2 all-time. Captain Brian Gionta left the team for personal reasons and will miss the game. The Canucks are trying to bounce back from a 4-1 whipping by the San Jose Sharks on Thursday. They'll be without defenseman Alex Edler, the team leader in ice time, who was suspended by the NHL for three games for a hit to the head against Sharks rookie Tomas Hertl.

Ottawa Senators at San Jose Sharks -- The Senators are doing their own season-opening tour of the continent; they've followed the Rangers to California and will have the unenviable task of trying to cool off the red-hot Sharks, one of two 4-0-0 teams in the NHL. Ottawa is 1-0-2 at the halfway point of its six-game trip and has been off since earning a point by rallying from a 3-0 deficit before losing 4-3 in overtime to the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday. Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi is 14-1-1 in his last 16 starts at the newly named SAP Center.

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