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Daily Primer Oct. 17: Roy races toward record

by John Kreiser

Patrick Roy was a record-setter during a playing career that earned him a berth in the Hockey Hall of Fame. He'll try to add another record to his resume Wednesday, this time as a coach.

Roy has led the Colorado Avalanche to victory in each of his first six games as coach, matching the mark for consecutive wins at the start of a coaching career set by former teammate Mario Tremblay with the 1995-96 Montreal Canadiens. Ironically, Roy was in goal for all six of those games.

To break the mark he shares with his old teammate, Roy's current team will have to beat an old nemesis -- the Detroit Red Wings, who had one of the NHL's fiercest rivalries with the Avalanche from 1995 through 2003. The Red Wings come to Pepsi Center with a three-game winning streak of their own.

Here's a complete look at the schedule for a busy Thursday:

Vancouver Canucks at Buffalo Sabres -- It's Game 2 of a seven-game trip for the Canucks, who come to First Niagara Center after rallying for a 3-2 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night. In that game, Canucks coach John Tortorella did something almost unthinkable in previous years: He split the Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel, in the third period. It worked, as Henrik set up new linemates Ryan Kesler and Chris Higgins for the tying and winning goals. The Sabres are back home after they got off the schneid Tuesday night with a 4-3 shootout win against the New York Islanders, but they won't succeed allowing 35.8 shots a game, as they've done during a 1-6-1 start.

Carolina Hurricanes at Toronto Maple Leafs -- The Hurricanes start their annual October trip with a stop in Toronto, where the Maple Leafs have rolled to a 6-1-0 start that has them atop the Eastern Conference. Carolina, one of the least-successful shootout teams in NHL history, lost another tiebreaker Tuesday when they rallied from a 2-0 third-period deficit but lost 3-2 -- their 34th loss in 58 shootouts. Toronto got two goals from Mason Raymond and a brilliant effort in goal by James Reimer to beat the Minnesota Wild 4-1 despite being outshot 37-14. Despite its fast start, Toronto is being outshot by more than six per game -- not a formula for long-term success.

Edmonton Oilers at New York Islanders -- Thirty years ago, this would have been the game of the night, a battle between teams that had met in the Stanley Cup Final five months earlier. Now it's a meeting between two franchises struggling to regain past glories. The Oilers are playing the fourth game in six nights on a road trip that has produced only one point so far. The Islanders are 2-2-2, but two shootout defeats, including a 4-3 loss to Buffalo on Tuesday, have come in home games in which they've blown third-period leads.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Philadelphia Flyers -- With the exception of a 6-3 clunker on the road against the Florida Panthers last Friday, this season has gone perfectly for the Penguins, who are coming off a 3-2 home win against Edmonton on Tuesday. The Flyers changed coaches after an 0-3-0 start, but they still haven't been able to produce much offense under new coach Craig Berube. Philadelphia has scored seven goals while going 1-3-0 in four games since the coaching change and couldn't hold a third-period lead against Vancouver on Tuesday.

Columbus Blue Jackets at Montreal Canadiens -- The Blue Jackets come to Bell Centre for the first time as a conference rival as they try to end a scoring drought of their own. Columbus limited the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings to four goals (plus an empty-netter) but lost 3-1 and 2-1 because it's struggling to score. The Canadiens figure to get an extra-raucous welcome when they hit the ice to start a five-game homestand after blanking the Winnipeg Jets 3-0 on Tuesday to complete a 3-1-0 trip through Western Canada. Carey Price stopped all 36 shots he faced in Winnipeg and has allowed one goal in his past two starts.

New Jersey Devils at Ottawa Senators -- Ottawa's season-opening tour of North America ended on a positive note when the Senators rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Phoenix Coyotes 4-3 in overtime, giving them a 2-2-2 record. Jason Spezza had a natural hat trick before Cory Conacher won it in OT. The Devils are completing a five-game trip during which they have yet to win; in fact, they haven't won any of their first six games (0-3-3), a franchise record.

Minnesota Wild at Tampa Bay Lightning -- The Wild did a lot of things right Tuesday in Toronto, but they lost 4-1 despite outshooting the Maple Leafs 37-14. Minnesota is hoping for a quick return by starting goaltender Niklas Backstrom, who went down with a knee injury last Tuesday. Josh Harding has been fine in his absence, but Darcy Kuemper didn't make it through the second period in Toronto before being relieved. The Lightning stomped the usually stingy Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday, but they're hoping the 5-1 victory didn't cost them the services of captain Martin St. Louis, who didn't practice Wednesday after blocking a shot with his foot against L.A.

Boston Bruins at Florida Panthers -- Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas squared off against each other numerous times in practice while both were with Boston. They'll likely do it for real at BB&T Center when the Bruins come to South Florida. Though coach Claude Julien hadn't officially named him as the starter, Rask told the Bruins' website he's eager to face his former partner. Thomas hasn't played since leaving last Tuesday's game in Philadelphia with a groin injury, but the Panthers said Wednesday that he's ready to go and will play.

St. Louis Blues at Chicago Blackhawks -- Eight days after the Blues got a last-minute goal from Alexander Steen for a 3-2 win in St. Louis, the Blackhawks will be looking for revenge at United Center. St. Louis' perfect start came to a crashing halt on Tuesday when the San Jose Sharks came into Scottrade Center and left with a 6-2 victory. This is their first road game of the season. The Blackhawks are 4-1-1 after one-goal weekend victories against the Islanders and Sabres.

Los Angeles Kings at Nashville Predators -- The Kings looked like themselves during the first two games of their road trip, a 2-1 shootout win at Carolina and a 3-0 victory at Florida. But they were pasted in Tampa Bay, with Jonathan Quick getting the hook for the second time this season during a 5-1 loss. The Predators are winning ugly, but they are winning -- Nashville is 3-1-0 entering the finale of a five-game homestand. All three victories, including a 4-3 win against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, have been by one goal.

San Jose Sharks at Dallas Stars -- The Sharks continue to devour everything in their wake. They responded to the loss of top defenseman Dan Boyle early in the first period by routing the St. Louis Blues 6-2 on Thursday to improve to 6-0-0. A win would give San Jose a 7-0-0 start for the second straight season, though two of last year's wins were in shootouts. The Stars outshot and outplayed Colorado for most of the night on Tuesday but came up a goal short in a 3-2 loss. Dallas has 11 goals in five games -- none from its third or fourth lines.

Detroit Red Wings at Colorado Avalanche -- In the absence of injured starter Jimmy Howard (bruised left hand), Jonas Gustavsson stepped up and stopped 64 of 67 shots in back-to-back victories against Boston and Columbus. Howard is questionable, but the Red Wings have to feel a lot better after Gustavsson's performance against the Bruins and Blue Jackets. Colorado allowed 41 shots in back-to-back games but won both of them thanks to Roy-esque goaltending by Semyon Varlamov, who has allowed six goals while winning all five of his starts. Still, the Avalanche are allowing an average of 35.3 shots and being outshot by five per game; like Toronto, that's not a formula for season-long success.


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