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Pickard gets first start for Avalanche vs. Canadiens

by Sean Farrell

AVALANCHE (1-3-1) at CANADIENS (4-1-0)


BROSSARD, Quebec -- Thrust right into the action Thursday against the Ottawa Senators after being recalled from the American Hockey League, Calvin Pickard will make his first NHL start Saturday for the Colorado Avalanche.

Pickard will be in goal for the Avalanche at Bell Centre against the Montreal Canadiens after relieving Reto Berra early in Colorado's 5-3 loss in Ottawa.

Berra sustained a neck injury in a goalmouth collision with Senators center Kyle Turris at 2:46 of the first period. He is day-to-day and will not dress Saturday.

Pickard, who joined the Avalanche on Thursday, stopped 23 of 27 shots and was tagged with the loss in his first game in the League. He was called up from Lake Erie of the AHL after No. 1 goalie Semyon Varlamov was placed on injured reserve because of a groin injury.

"The last game was a tough situation for him, flying all day and coming in early in the game, 22 years old, not much experience," Colorado coach Patrick Roy said. "I think [Saturday] it's a better situation for him. Now, we'll see how he does. It's a situation where I think sometimes you look at this and it's a great opportunity for him to prove himself, and it's a chance for him to show us as an organization how good he can be."

Sami Aittokallio was recalled from Lake Erie on Friday and will back up Pickard.

Roy is not overly concerned with the status of his injured goalies.

"I think if this was the playoffs, [Varlamov] would be in net [Saturday]," Roy said.

Canadiens right wing Brendan Gallagher crossed paths with Pickard when they faced each other in the Western Hockey League.

"I know he's a very good goalie," Gallagher said. "I played against him in junior and he was one of the best goalies in the league at that point. He's just a guy that battles. Even when you think you have an empty net, you better be sure to bury it because he's going to battle back and more times than not make a pretty good save."

Gallagher said the Avalanche's goaltending issues won't affect Montreal's approach to the game.

"Regardless of who's in net, it doesn't change the way we go about our business or how we play," Gallagher said. "I think getting pucks and people around the net is always something that we talk about doing, and it will be no different tonight."

Here are the projected lineups:


Jamie McGinn - Matt Duchene - Jarome Iginla

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Ryan O'Reilly

Alex Tanguay - John Mitchell - Daniel Briere

Cody McLeod - Marc-Andre Cliche- Maxime Talbot

Nick Holden - Erik Johnson

Jan Hejda - Tyson Barrie

Brad Stuart - Nate Guenin

Calvin Pickard

Sami Aittokallio

Scratched: Zach Redmond, Ryan Wilson

Injured: Semyon Varlamov (groin), Reto Berra (neck), Jesse Winchester (head)


Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Brendan Gallagher

Alex Galchenyuk - Tomas Plekanec - Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau

Rene Bourque - Lars Eller - Jiri Sekac

Brandon Prust - Manny Malhotra - Travis Moen

Alexei Emelin - P.K. Subban

Andrei Markov - Tom Gilbert

Jarred Tinordi - Mike Weaver

Carey Price

Dustin Tokarski

Scratched: Dale Weise, Nathan Beaulieu

Injured: None

Status report: MacKinnon will center a line with Landeskog and O'Reilly after playing with Briere and Tanguay. ... Iginla has yet to score through his first five games with the Avalanche. He is tied with Guy Lafleur for 24th in career regular season goals with 560. ... Aittokallio has not played a game this season for Lake Erie, where he went 15-15-3 with a 2.65 GAA and a .909 save percentage last season. ... The Canadiens are not expected to make any changes to their lineup.

Who's hot: MacKinnon had a pair of assists Thursday, and three in his past three games. ... Gallagher has five points (3-2) over the course of a three-game points streak. He scored twice and had an assist during the Canadiens' 6-4 win against the Boston Bruins on Thursday for his first multi-goal game in 130 regular season games in the League. ... Parenteau will face his former team for the first time after scoring his first two goals for Montreal on Thursday.

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