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Grigorenko on top line for Avalanche vs. Canadiens

by Sean Farrell / NHL.com

AVALANCHE (6-9-1) at CANADIENS (13-2-2)

TV: TVA Sports, SN, ALT

MONTREAL -- The Colorado Avalanche will be without left wing Gabriel Landeskog when they try to continue their strong start to a seven-game road trip against the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre on Saturday.

Landeskog, Colorado's captain, was assessed a two-game suspension by the NHL on Friday for his blindside hit to the head of Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand on Thursday.

"Obviously it [stinks] to have your captain out and one of your best players, but we've got to move on," Avalanche forward Matt Duchene said.

Duchene and center Nathan MacKinnon will start the game with Mikhail Grigorenko on their line at left wing in place of Landeskog, who was given a match penalty for his second-period hit on Marchand.

Grigorenko set up Duchene for the winning goal Thursday to give Colorado consecutive victories in the first two games of its longest trip of the season.

"I've played a bit with him already and I think Nate has too so we kind of know what he does out there," Duchene said. "He's a great hockey player and I'd love to get him the puck and see him score his first in an (Avalanche) jersey."

Coach Patrick Roy said Colorado has to accept the suspension and concentrate on playing against League-leading Montreal.

"We're playing against a team that has good speed up front, they have a great transition game, and I'd rather focus on that than on the suspension," Roy said. "And it's a team that has two very good goaltenders, I mean, their young guy is playing really well for them. We're going to have to play a solid game here (Saturday) if we want to have a chance to win the hockey game."

Rookie goalie Mike Condon will make his seventh consecutive start for the Canadiens, who are 7-0-1 at home.

Forward Alexander Semin will be back in the lineup for the first time since Oct. 27. Semin has been a healthy scratch for the past seven games after recording one goal and two assists in his first 10 games with Montreal.

Canadiens right wing Brendan Gallagher is looking forward to see how the veteran Russian responds to his opportunity.

"When guys are playing against him, they've got to be worried," Gallagher said. "With his shot, his ability to get the puck off quickly, he is an important player to be aware of. Certainly, he's excited to get back in the lineup. He wants to contribute to what is going on here. He's a good player and he's been a good player in this league for a long time."

Defenseman Alexeim Emelin is out with a lower-body injury so Greg Pateryn will make his season debut against Colorado.

"I'm excited, absolutely. It's been a long time," Pateryn said. "You stay ready for a reason. You never know what can happen. I don't think I'm rusty. I have been sharp in practice and I feel good."

Here are the projected lineups:

AVALANCHE

Mikhail Grigorenko - Nathan MacKinnon - Matt Duchene

Blake Comeau - Carl Soderberg - Jarome Iginla

Cody McLeod - John Mitchell - Andreas Martinsen

Dennis Everberg - Ben Street - Jack Skille

Francois Beauchemin - Erik Johnson

Nick Holden - Tyson Barrie

Brandon Gormley - Nate Guenin

Reto Berra

Calvin Pickard

Suspended: Gabriel Landeskog

Injured: Brad Stuart (back), Semyon Varlamov (groin), Alex Tanguay (knee), Jesse Winchester (concussion)

Scratched: Zach Redmond

CANADIENS

Max Pacioretty - Tomas Plekanec - Brendan Gallagher

Lars Eller - Alex Galchenyuk - Alexander Semin

Tomas Fleischmann - David Desharnais - Dale Weise

Devante Smith-Pelly - Torrey Mitchell - Brian Flynn

Andrei Markov - P.K. Subban

Nathan Beaulieu - Jeff Petry

Tom Gilbert - Greg Pateryn

Mike Condon

Dustin Tokarski

Injured: Carey Price (lower body), Alexei Emelin (lower body)

Scratched: Paul Byron, Jarred Tinordi

Status report: The Avalanche will not add a forward as a result of Grigorenko's suspension. "We're not going to call up anybody. We're fine," Roy said. Semin's return means left wing Paul Byron will sit out. Byron had two goals, both on shorthanded breakaways, and one assist in seven games after replacing Semin in the lineup. Tinordi has yet to play this season.

Who's hot: Duchene had three goals and two assists in the first two games of the road trip, and Soderberg had a goal and two points. Gallagher has two goals and three assists during a three-game points streak. Plekanec (two goals, two assists), Pacioretty (one goal, three assists) and Subban (four assists) also have three-game points streak.

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