Friday, 10.14.2011 / 10:13 PM
After suffering a letdown in their season opener at home, the Colorado Avalanche have picked up their play during a five-game road trip.
The Montreal Canadiens are also trying to raise their game as they battle through injuries to key players.
Colorado looks to open 4-0 on the road for the first time in 26 years when it faces Montreal on Saturday night.
The Avalanche (3-1-0) looked overmatched in a 3-0 loss to Detroit on Oct. 8 but opened their trip with a 1-0 win over Boston two days later. They then beat Columbus 3-2 in a shootout Wednesday and defeated Ottawa 7-1 on Thursday.
Colorado, playing its fourth game in six days on a road swing that ends Monday against Toronto, hasn't won its first four road games since Oct. 12-21, 1985, when the franchise was the Quebec Nordiques.
The Avalanche last won four of their first five games overall when they were 4-0 with one tie in 1997-98. They also won their first three road contests that season.
Rookie Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene and Milan Hejduk each had a goal and an assist Thursday as Colorado went 4 for 6 on the power play. The Avs had gone 0 for 10 in the first three games.
"It's always important to get everyone going," the 18-year-old Landeskog said. "(Thursday) was one of those nights where you got the bounces and gave us confidence to move forward."
Montreal (1-2-0) is attempting to do the same, though it has been hit by a rash of health issues.
Veteran winger Michael Cammalleri
will miss nearly two weeks after suffering a right leg laceration in a win over Winnipeg on Sunday, and defenseman Jaroslav Spacek
will be out two to three weeks with an upper-body injury which occurred in the same game.
is expected to miss multiple months with a severe groin injury, while fellow defenseman Andrei Markov
has yet to play due to a knee problem incurred last season.
The short-handed Canadiens fell 4-1 to Calgary on Thursday, and defenseman Hal Gill
hinted that his teammates were pressing at times to do too much.
"We did some things right but if we're not going to work as a team we're going to end up losing games," he told the team's official website. "It creeps in and everyone is looking at himself saying 'I have to be better' but a lot of times it's just about being supportive."
scored the game's first goal less than two minutes in, but the Canadiens couldn't keep up the pace as Calgary responded with three goals before the end of the first period.
"We have to play a good team game in order to be successful and we got away from that," Gill said.
made 17 saves while failing to earn his 100th victory. He hasn't fared well against the Avalanche, going 0-2-0 with a 3.05 goals-against average in two starts.
Backup Peter Budaj
is in his first season with Montreal after spending six seasons with Colorado, and it's uncertain who will start in net for the Canadiens on Saturday.
Semyon Varlamov, who started Colorado's first three games before getting the night off Thursday, is 3-0-1 with a 1.45 GAA versus Montreal.