Avalanche-Maple Leafs Preview
A strong start is not a new experience for the Toronto Maple
Leafs. Their next opponent, meanwhile, is in the midst of its best
beginning in 11 seasons.
The Colorado Avalanche will try to add to their early success by
completing a sweep of a five-game road trip and handing the Maple
Leafs their first loss of the season Monday night.
Toronto (3-0-0) started 4-0 in 2010-11 but missed the playoffs
for the sixth straight year. The Maple Leafs took another step
toward ending that drought by rallying for a 3-2 win over Calgary
on Saturday in the third of five straight home games to open this
“To get off to this start, it’s huge for us,” goaltender James
Reimer said. “Hopefully we can keep it rolling, stay confident and
keep improving in our game. And hopefully when it’s all said and
done we’ll have had a pretty good season.”
Phil Kessel had two goals and an assist Saturday after his team
fell behind 2-0 in the first 5:40. He recorded his third career hat
trick and an assist in the Leafs’ previous game Oct. 8 against
“The (shots are) just going in,” he said. “I have some great
linemates … and we’re just clicking.”
Colorado (4-1-0) will try to keep Kessel from continuing his hot
streak while improving on its best start since going 9-0 with two
ties to begin the 2000-01 season.
To earn their latest win – a 6-5 shootout victory over Montreal
– the Avalanche had to endure a wild game Saturday. David Jones’
second goal of the second period gave his team a 4-3 lead after
two, but Colorado fell behind in the third before Kyle Quincey tied
it with 4:03 remaining in regulation.
“We’ve got to ride it when we’re hot,” forward Milan Hejduk
said. “We want to go 5-0 on this road trip. That would be
The Avalanche are riding their longest winning streak since a
six-game run Dec. 10-19. They lost 38 of 49 after that to finish
with the second-fewest points in the NHL (68).
Colorado is seeking its first five-game road win streak since
taking six in a row Jan. 19-March 11, 2002, and a third straight
victory at the Air Canada Centre as it makes its first visit there
in two years.
Toronto, however, won the most recent matchup 4-3 on March 24 in
Denver as Nikolai Kulemin scored twice and Kessel had a key
power-play goal in the third period. Colorado defenseman Erik
Johnson matched a career high with three assists.
The Avalanche might give veteran goaltender Jean-Sebastien
Giguere a chance to face his former team. Anaheim traded Giguere to
Toronto on Jan. 31, 2010, and he left the Leafs to sign a two-year
deal with Colorado this offseason.
Giguere stopped 15 shots in his only appearance this season, a
7-1 win over Ottawa on Thursday. The Avalanche’s other goaltender,
Semyon Varlamov, is 1-0-1 with a 2.40 goals-against average in two
starts versus the Leafs but has not faced them since Nov. 21,
Reimer’s only matchup with Colorado was the victory in March.
Backup Jonas Gustavsson has yet to see the ice this season and has
never faced the Avalanche.