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Reply To: NHL • Monday Service Plays • 12/21/15

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Preview: Toronto at Colorado

When: 9:00 PM ET, Monday, December 21, 2015

Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado

A pair of teams with stark contrasts in their goaltending situation meet Monday as the Colorado Avalanche try for their sixth consecutive victory when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs. Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov has been in net for every game of the streak – stopping 177-of-182 shots – while Jonathan Bernier has become the goaltender by default after injuries to No. 1 James Reimer (groin) and rookie Garret Sparks (lower-body).

“It seems like the last little while he’s been making those key saves at key moments of the game,” Avalanche forward Blake Comeau told reporters about Varlamov (12-8-1, 2.45 goals-against average, .921 save percentage), who has won six in a row. “He’s a huge reason (why) we’re playing as well as we are. We need him to stay that way.” Bernier, meanwhile, started the season 0-8-3 before shutting out his former team – Los Angeles – 5-0 on Saturday to help Toronto extend its point streak to five games (3-0-2). While the Maple Leafs sit last in the Atlantic Division under first-year coach Mike Babcock, Colorado moved ahead of Winnipeg and out of the Central basement. Toronto prevailed 5-1 on Nov. 17 behind a pair of goals from former Avalanche player Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau.

TV: 9 p.m. ET, Sportsnet Ontario (Toronto), Altitude (Colorado)

ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (11-13-7): Toronto got a big lift from a new line combination consisting of Michael Grabner and Leo Komarov (team-high 13 goals), who each scored twice while playing with Nazem Kadri. “We created some chances,” Grabner told reporters after recording a career-high four points and doubling his season goal total. “We gave up a couple chances against we’ve got to get a little bit better at, but overall I think it was a pretty good game for the first game together.” Kadri had two assists Saturday for his third multi-point game of the season and second in the last five games, a span in which he has two goals and three assists.

ABOUT THE AVALANCHE (17-16-1): Colorado is winning largely without much production from Matt Duchene (team-best 16 goals, 28 points), who has a goal and an assist during the winning streak. Jarome Iginla (nine goals) scored for the first time in 10 December games in Saturday’s 5-1 victory over Edmonton and is two shy of becoming the 19th player in NHL history to reach 600. “… You try not to get frustrated, you try and stay with it, but it felt good to see one finally go in,” Iginla told reporters.


1. The Avalanche have yielded only two power-play goals in 26 chances over the last 10 games.

2. Maple Leafs LW James van Riemsdyk (10 goals, 20 points) had his three-game goal streak snapped Saturday.

3. Comeau scored a short-handed goal Saturday and has two of Colorado’s three this season.

PREDICTION: Maple Leafs 3, Avalanche 2