Red Wings-Avalanche Preview
The Colorado Avalanche are off to a stunning undefeated start, giving new coach Patrick Roy a share of an NHL record.
The Detroit Red Wings, their former Western Conference rivals, aren't doing too badly either.
Roy can set the league mark for consecutive victories to start a coaching career Thursday night when his Avs host a Red Wings club that's won three in a row.
Colorado (6-0-0) kept rolling Tuesday, defeating Dallas 3-2 as Matt Duchene scored twice and Semyon Varlamov stopped 39 shots. That pulled Roy even with Mario Tremblay, who won his first six games with Montreal in 1995-96, a team Roy played for before being traded to the Avalanche later that season. Tremblay played a big role in the trade after not pulling Roy out of a game soon enough in a lopsided loss.
"I don't know what to say. And that doesn't happen to me very often," said Roy, who will go for the record in his coaching debut against the Avs' biggest rival during Roy's time in Colorado. "I certainly appreciate more the way our guys played than appreciate breaking a record or something like this.
"I'm not really excited about that record, to be honest with you. I'm excited about looking at the way the team has been playing, how hard the team has been working."
The franchise's best start was 7-0 in 1985-86 as the Quebec Nordiques.
Colorado has allowed a league-low six goals, thanks in large part to Varlamov, who's won all five of his starts with a 1.20 goals-against average and .965 save percentage. He's faced 41 shots in each of the last two games.
"I guess goaltending is crucial in this league," Roy said, grinning. "You need some good goaltending every night, that's what we've been lucky with. ... That's a game where Varly - that was a steal from him."
If Varlamov is in goal Thursday, he may need to steal another one against a Detroit team that's averaged more than 35 shots in its last five games. The Wings (5-2-0) have also looked very good defensively, giving up eight goals in their victories.
Detroit got a second straight strong performance in net from Jonas Gustavsson on Tuesday, as he made 36 saves in a 2-1 win over Columbus. Gustavsson, who started in place of Jimmy Howard for the second consecutive contest, stopped 28 shots in a 3-2 win over Boston the previous day.
"I think we've done a lot of good things. ... We've just got to keep getting better as a team," coach Mike Babcock said. "I like what's going on."
Howard's status for this game remains uncertain.
Duchene has four goals in the past three contests, while 2013 No. 1 overall draft pick Nathan MacKinnon notched an assist Tuesday and has recorded points in five of his six games for Colorado.
"They look like they go very fast. ... They got a bunch of injuries last year, and this year they got more guys again and keep adding good players and (MacKinnon) looks like he's going to be a star very quickly, so they've got a good-looking team," Babcock said.
The Wings' Henrik Zetterberg had two assists against the Blue Jackets to continue his hot start. He has five goals and four assists to place him among the league point leaders.
Detroit has won three straight matchups with Colorado, all by one goal. The teams will be meeting for the first time as interconference opponents after the Wings' move to the Eastern Conference as a part of NHL realignment.