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GAME: Colorado Avalanche (38-17-12-5) at Montreal Canadiens (38-26-6-3).
TIME: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
Though the Colorado Avalanche will remember last week for a frightening loss, some additions made around the same time may have boosted their Stanley Cup hopes.
The Avalanche seek a season-high fifth straight victory as they face the Montreal Canadiens in a matchup of two of the league's hottest teams.
Center Steve Moore getting his neck broken by Todd Bertuzzi in the now infamous incident from Monday night put a damper over the franchise. However, Colorado has not lost since, thanks in part to some acquisitions made shortly before last Tuesday's trade deadline.
Matthew Barnaby scored the winning goal for the second straight game and fellow newcomer Tommy Salo made 26 saves Sunday as the Avalanche won their fourth in a row, 4-1 over Phoenix.
"This team has everything," Barnaby said. "I just want to be a little piece of the pie that wins a Stanley Cup."
Barnaby was acquired from the New York Rangers on Monday, a day before Colorado picked up Salo from Edmonton and got Chris Gratton along with defenseman Ossi Vaananen from Phoenix.
"The new guys have brought exactly what we thought they would," Avs coach Tony Granato said. "They've added a lot of enthusiasm to our lineup. They've added depth and they've added a physical presence."
Colorado, three points behind Detroit for the Western Conference's best record, now goes for its longest win streak since a six-game run from Jan. 30-Feb. 11, 2003.
The Avs have gone 6-0-2 against the Canadiens since Dec. 8, 1997, but are facing a Montreal team that has gone 9-1-0-1 in its last 11 games to virtually assure itself of a postseason berth.
This game presents a second straight opportunity for the Canadiens to show they can compete with the league's elite.
Yannic Perreault scored midway through the third period Saturday to lift Montreal to a 4-3 win over Toronto.
"We're trying to improve our ranking," said Perreault, who has eight points in his last six games. "The Leafs are one of the top teams in the league and it was a big challenge for us to be able to show that we can play."
Also leading the offense during Montreal's recent surge is Richard Zednik, who has six goals and six assists during a seven-game point streak.
Joe Sakic and Milan Hejduk are helping Colorado overcome the absence of injured forwards Peter Forsberg and Alex Tanguay. In the last seven games - during which Colorado is 5-1-1 - Sakic has six goals and nine assists, while Hejduk has 11 points.
STANDINGS: Avalanche - 93 points, 1st place, Northwest Division. Canadiens - 85 points, 4th place, 6 PB, Northeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Avalanche - Hejduk, 35 goals; Tanguay, 54 assists; Sakic, 82 points; Peter Worrell, 158 PIM. Canadiens - Zednik, 25 goals; Mike Ribeiro, 40 assists and 59 points; Darren Langdon, 135 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 14): Avalanche - Power play: 21.6 percent (70 for 324), 3rd in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.6 percent (270 for 319), 10th. Canadiens - Power play: 17.9 percent (52 for 290), 8th. Penalty killing: 81.9 percent (227 for 277), 25th.
GOALTENDERS: Avalanche - David Aebischer (30-15-9, 4 SO, 2.06 GAA); Salo (18-18-6, 3, 2.54). Canadiens - Jose Theodore (30-24-5, 6, 2.18); Mathieu Garon (8-5-1, 0, 2.44).
2002-03 SEASON SERIES: Avalanche, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 6, 2002; Avalanche, 7-6, OT. At Denver, Radim Vrbata, now with Carolina, scored a power-play goal 1:52 into overtime. Sakic had two goals and two assists.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Avalanche - 20-4-7-4 on the road; Canadiens - 20-11-4-1 at home.
|Mar 16 '04||COL 2 at MTL 4||S. Koivu|