DENVER (CBSMiami/AP) – A pair of teams that have stumbled out of the gate will face off tonight in Denver.
The Colorado Avalanche don’t seem too concerned about their slow start.
Looking to bounce back from a rough trip, the Avalanche try to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat Tuesday night against the visiting Florida Panthers.
Last season, Colorado (1-4-1) opened with six straight victories and won 14 of its first 16 en route to the Central Division title.
This season has started much differently for the Avalanche, who went 0-2-1 in the last three games of their four-game trip, which concluded with a 3-2 loss to Montreal on Saturday.
“I’d rather face adversity now than later in the year,” forward Matt Duchene told the NHL’s official website.
Colorado has yet to come around offensively. After getting outscored 8-0 by Minnesota in a season-opening home-and-home series, the Avalanche managed nine goals on the trip, scoring more than two in a game only once. Duchene and Alex Tanguay each scored their second goals Saturday for Colorado, which ranks near the bottom of the league with 27.5 shots per contest.
“We’re going to have to be a little bit better around the net, and put more pucks on net and make the goalie work a little more,” coach Patrick Roy told the team’s official website.
Calvin Pickard allowed all three goals in the second period but made 33 saves in his first NHL start Saturday.
Roy has faith the promising rookie can man the net while Semyon Varlamov sits out with a groin injury and backup Reto Berra is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.
“We didn’t show any panic with our decisions or the way we wanted to deal with the situation (of the team’s top two goalies being hurt),” Roy said. “(Pickard) was the reason why we had a chance to come back in that game (Saturday).”
Solid goaltending helped Florida (1-2-2) earn three points in the first two of a four-game trip.
Roberto Luongo made 26 saves in a 1-0 victory over Buffalo on Friday. Al Montoya stopped 27 shots Saturday, though he failed to turn aside any of the three he faced in the shootout of a 2-1 loss to Washington on Saturday.
Luongo, who could be back in net for this game, has yielded one goal on 49 shots in his last two starts after giving up eight on 46 in the first two. The former Vancouver Canuck is in the midst of a 12-0-2 stretch against Colorado and has a 1.09 goals-against average during a six-game winning streak in the series.
Luongo and Montoya, though, will need more offensive support from a Panthers club that’s totaled a league-low five goals.
“We’ve got to find ways to score more (goals), to generate more offense,” said winger Brad Boyes, who has a goal and an assist over the last two contests.
“We’ve got to sustain more pressure. We’ve got to start playing in sync a little bit more. I think when we do that, (we’ll be a better team).”
Boyes has two goals and four assists in his last four contests at Colorado. He scored as Florida snapped an 0-1-2 road slide against the Avalanche with a 4-1 victory Nov. 16.
Duchene has three goals and three assists in three road games in the series, but nothing in two at home against the Panthers.
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