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The Colorado Avalanche and Columbus Blue Jackets feel very differently about themselves after each team played a Stanley Cup finalist in its last game.
The Avalanche will try to hand the stumbling Blue Jackets another loss Wednesday night when they continue a five-game road trip.
Colorado (1-1-0) earned its first victory Monday, 1-0 against the reigning Stanley Cup Champions in Boston. The Avalanche became the last Western Conference team to score its first goal on Milan Hejduk's third-period tally, and Semyon Varlamov made it stand up with 30 saves.
"We've had two tough challenges to start the season," center Paul Stastny said. "It's easy to get up for these games, especially playing a team like this - the defending champs."
Colorado likely won't face as great a challenge against Columbus (0-3-0), which has started with three straight losses for the first time. The Blue Jackets blew a third-period lead in Monday's 3-2 home loss to defending Western Conference champion Vancouver.
"More than anything, that was three games in four nights for us," coach Scott Arniel said. "We had nothing left in the tank in the third period."
The Avalanche have gone 7-1-0 against the Blue Jackets over the past two seasons. Stastny and Hejduk each had nine points and Matt Duchene had seven in those games.
Neither team has scored on the power play this season, with Colorado going 0 for 6 and Columbus 0 for 16.
The Blue Jackets came up empty in five chances Monday.
"You know what, our power play has to score," Arniel said. "I thought our power play was better tonight. I thought we created a lot of chances, a lot of second opportunities on shots."
Compounding Columbus' problems has been a penalty-kill unit that has yielded four goals in 11 chances. In addition, Maksim Mayorov had a penalty shot saved against the Canucks.
"Special teams are key in the NHL nowadays," left wing Vinny Prospal said. "We haven't scored one power-play goal in the three games and (Vancouver) had one (Monday), and it ended up being a winner."
Steve Mason has started all three games, posting a 3.82 goals-against average. He won his first two starts against the Avalanche but has lost the last six while recording a 4.75 GAA.
Varlamov, meanwhile, bounced back with his fifth career shutout after losing his Colorado debut. He has never faced Columbus.
"It's great to have a goalie back there, like that," defenseman Ryan O'Byrne told the Avalanche's official website. "It gives us a lot of confidence up front."
Colorado has killed off all six power-play chances by its opponents, and it could be poised to add to the frustrations of the Blue Jackets, whose fans have started booing the sputtering power play.
"I know they are frustrated by it," Arniel said. "It still is something with all the new faces, we have to just continue to hammer away at it."