Maple Leafs-Avalanche Preview

The Colorado Avalanche’s slow start has gone from bad to worse.

Still, coach Patrick Roy thinks the Avalanche are moving in the right direction, and he hopes they can translate those positives into a victory Thursday night against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs.

"What I see right now, maybe we have a lack of confidence, especially offensively," Roy said. "We’ve been struggling scoring that big goal.

"Maybe I’m a positive person, but we’re not far off."

Colorado allowed five unanswered goals Tuesday against Vancouver, falling 5-2 for its third consecutive defeat and fifth in six games (1-2-3).

With 11 points, Colorado (3-6-5) sits in last place in the Central Division.

The Avalanche have experienced their share of scoring troubles, partly due to some inconsistent play. Nathan MacKinnon, who scored 24 goals as a rookie last season, has four in his last four games after not scoring in the first 10, while captain Matt Duchene has been held without a point in three straight.

The more glaring issue for the Avalanche may be their defense, as they rank near the bottom of the league with 41 goals allowed and face 35.5 shots per game.

"We’re talking 10 games ago, it’s early. But this isn’t early anymore," forward Jarome Iginla said. "We know that. We know we’re not playing well enough."

Toronto (6-5-1) peppered Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov with 40 shots on its way to a 3-2 overtime victory Oct. 14. Varlamov has started the last seven games but will give way Thursday to Reto Berra.

Berra, 1-0-1 with a 2.07 goals-against average in four appearances, has never faced Toronto.

The Maple Leafs travel to Colorado looking to split a two-game road trip. Phil Kessel picked up two assists but Toronto couldn’t overcome another three-goal deficit in a 3-2 loss to Arizona on Tuesday, snapping a three-game win streak.

Poor starts have plagued Toronto, which has fallen behind 3-0 in each of its four previous regulation losses.

”Turtle start. It was slower than slow,” coach Randy Carlyle said. ”No explanation for that other than it seemed we were in neutral and they were in third gear."

Jonathan Bernier took the night off as James Reimer made 30 saves. Reimer was in net last month against Colorado, but Bernier will likely start Thursday.

"Big game for us tomorrow in Colorado," Bernier said Wednesday. "We need a bounce-back game. I don’t think we played the way we wanted to last night, so we need to come out of the gate with more intensity."

James van Riemsdyk had a goal, Joffrey Lupul tied it midway through the third period and Kessel scored in overtime in the first matchup. Lupul, however, is out for three weeks with a broken hand.

Toronto will also be without forward Carter Ashton, who has been suspended for 20 games without pay after failing a drug test.

The Maple Leafs have won the past two meetings and three in a row in Colorado behind a combined 16 goals. Kessel and MacKinnon scored twice in Toronto’s 5-2 victory in Denver last season.