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Patrick Roy makes his return to Montreal for the first time as a head coach when the Hall-of-Fame netminder guides the Colorado Avalanche into a matchup with the Canadiens on Tuesday night. Roy, who spent 11-plus seasons in Montreal before drawing the ire of the franchise's rabid fan base by demanding a trade, has the Avalanche on a roll with seven victories in their last nine games. Colorado has won the past four meetings against the Canadiens, including a 4-1 victory in Colorado on Nov. 2.
Montreal was on the verge of a fourth straight loss before scoring three goals in the final 3:22 of regulation in a 5-4 overtime victory over Ottawa on Saturday night. The Canadiens followed that up with a 2-0 win in Buffalo 24 hours later and are trying to not let Roy's return be a distraction. "He's obviously a special player when it comes to this franchise, but at the end of the day it's not about that," Montreal goalie Carey Price said. "It's about our team versus theirs on the ice, and right now we're just in desperation mode trying to pick up points."
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, ALT (Denver), RDS, TSN (Montreal)
ABOUT THE AVALANCHE (44-19-5): Colorado center Matt Duchene has multiple points in six of his last 11 games, scoring five goals to go with 11 assists in that span to fuel the team's recent surge. Duchene, whose 64 points are three shy of his career high set in 2010-11, said he does not expect Roy's homecoming to affect the Avalanche's preparation. "It's a big night for him, but he's going to play it off like it's not about him," Duchene told the team's website. "That's the way he is, and it won't be a distraction, by any means."
ABOUT THE CANADIENS (37-25-7): Price was shaky in his first start since his sensational performance at the Olympics, but Montreal's late flurry bailed him out against Ottawa. After not accompanying the team to Buffalo to continue to receive treatment, Price is hoping to be sharper Tuesday. “Of course it’s challenging when you don’t play for a while. It’s all about timing,” Price said. “Playing fewer games due to the injury definitely could be beneficial toward the end of the season. Moving forward, it might help, but now I’m just focused on getting my timing back.”
1. Price is 0-2-1 against Colorado, the only team he has yet to beat.
2. Avalanche G Semyon Varlamov is 4-0-1 lifetime against Montreal.
3. LW Thomas Vanek has one assist in five games with the Canadiens.
PREDICTION: Canadiens 3, Avalanche 2