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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Tuesday, March 18th (All times Eastern)

Colorado Avalanche (44-19-5) at Montreal Canadiens (37-25-7), 7:30 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - Patrick Roy will no doubt get a positive reception from the Bell Centre crowd on Tuesday night ahead of the Colorado Avalanche's game versus the hosting Montreal Canadiens.

It will then be back to business once the puck drops as the two clubs battle for key points in their respective playoff races.

Roy, of course, was a third-round pick by the Canadiens franchise in the 1984 draft and spent his first 10-plus seasons with Montreal before his infamous trade to Colorado in December of 1995 after a fallout with then head coach Mario Tremblay.

During his time with the Habs, Roy won a pair of Conn Smythe Trophies and Stanley Cup titles in 1986 and 1993. He also won two Cups and another Conn Smythe award with the Avalanche.

Roy has since had his No. 33 jersey retired by the Canadiens and faced Montreal for the first time as a coach when the Avalanche picked up a 4-1 victory at home on Nov. 2.

It was Colorado's fourth straight win over the Habs and it has also won its past two in Montreal.

Roy admitted after Sunday's win over the Ottawa Senators that he hadn't been looking ahead to this matchup.

"Now I'm going to think about it, but before that I was not really focusing on this," said Roy. "I've been talking to our players that I want a partnership with them. I want us to focus on what we have to do every night and take it one day at a time. I have to do the same thing as them.

"I have a lot of respect for the Montreal organization and I have a lot of respect for the fans in Montreal. They were a big part of my career, my 10 years there (were) outstanding, and now that we're going to play them I'm just going to try and approach it as a hockey game."

The big storyline for both clubs isn't the reunion as much as the chase for playoff positioning. Colorado is second in the Central Division with 93 points, one ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks and eight back of the St. Louis Blues.

Montreal, meanwhile, is tied for second in the Atlantic Division with the Tampa Bay Lightning, a distant 16 points behind the Boston Bruins. However, the Canadiens also are only one point ahead of the fourth-place Toronto Maple Leafs.

Habs goaltender Carey Price said on Monday that the club needs to focus on the game and not the return of Roy.

"(He) is obviously a special player, when it comes to this franchise. But at the end of the day it's not about that. It's about our team versus theirs on the ice and right now we're in desperation mode trying to pick up points," said Price, though he did admit that Roy was one of his favorite goaltenders.

"He was the favorite among many in my generation. It's pretty exciting to have the opportunity to play against him, indirectly I guess."

Price missed Montreal's first eight games after the Winter Olympic break having suffered a lower-body injury while helping lead Canada to a second straight gold medal. He finally returned to action on Saturday in a 5-4 overtime win against the Ottawa Senators, then did not make his club's trip to Buffalo to get extra rest.

Instead, Dustin Tokarski played in his 10th NHL game and notched a 29-save shutout, the first of his career, in a 2-0 win over the Sabres. He helped Montreal to its second straight win following a three-game slide.

"The main thing is the two points," Tokarski said. "It was just a little icing on the cake with the shutout."

Dale Weise and Brendan Gallagher scored the goals for the Habs.

Price is get the start tonight and is 0-2-1 with a 3.61 goals against average versus the Avalanche.

Colorado has won seven of its last nine and notched a 3-1 triumph over Ottawa on Sunday. Andre Benoit, Nick Holden and John Mitchell supplied the goals and Semyon Varlamov made 38 saves.

Varlamov came within six seconds of a shutout before getting beat on a one- time blast from the point by Ottawa's Mika Zibanejad.

"He played so well ... The guys wanted to get the shutout for (Varlamov), but they made a great play," said Roy.

Forward Matt Duchene collected two assists as Colorado played a fourth game in a row without Paul Stastny due to a back issue.

The Avalanche will visit the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday and backup Jean- Sebastien Giguere will get the start tonight. The Montreal-born Giguere is 8-3-1 against the Canadiens with a 2.49 GAA.

03/18 10:56:12 ET

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