Avalanche-Capitals Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated October 11, 2013
While the Colorado Avalanche are off to their best start since relocating from Quebec, the Washington Capitals have been incapable of holding a lead. The Avalanche look to remain undefeated when they conclude a three-game trip against the Capitals on Saturday night. Under first-year coach and former star goaltender Patrick Roy, Colorado is 4-0-0 for the first time since the club moved to Denver prior to the 1995-96 season. The Nordiques opened 5-0-0 the previous season, the franchise's last in Quebec. "We are trying to make the playoffs and go as far as we can," said forward Ryan O'Reilly, who has two goals with an assist this season. "We are approaching every game to learn and get better, and right now we are having success and doing it." The Avs missed the playoffs in their last three seasons under coach Joe Sacco, but seem to have a renewed purpose with Roy, who anchored Colorado's Stanley Cup title runs in 1996 and 2001. "The whole mentality is changing, our whole attitude," said Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who made 39 saves in Thursday's 2-0 win at Boston in his first start of the season. "We seem to believe in ourselves a little bit more. It is a different voice, and the guys seem to be responding to it right now." Giguere and ex-Capital Semyon Varlamov have been the keys to Colorado's early success, combining to stop 127 of 130 shots and helping kill all 10 penalties. "Every point (in the standings) you have right now, you don't chase them at the end, which is great," Roy told the NHL's official website. "Honestly, we don't really have expectations. We just want to surprise the world of hockey. "At the same time, we're humble, we take it one day at time, and here we are 4-0 at the start of the year, which is unexpected from a lot of people, but for us, we just take it one day at a time, and hopefully we can win again in Washington (on) Saturday." Colorado has won two straight and three of its last four against Washington (1-3-0), though the teams haven't met since December 2011. The Caps have led in each of their losses, including a 6-4 season-opening defeat against Chicago in which they surrendered three unanswered goals after taking a 4-3 lead in the final period. They held a pair of one-goal leads Thursday against Carolina before the Hurricanes tied the game twice in the second and scored the only goal of the third for a 3-2 win. Washington's lone victory came 5-4 over Calgary in a shootout on Oct. 3. "I don't think it's time to push the panic button yet," coach Adam Oates told the Capitals' official website. "I think we could be 4-0 and we could be 0-4. You want to just keep playing correct. Sooner our later it will start turning and go your way. Guys will get off the goose eggs and start feeling better about themselves. Before you know it you're playing good hockey and getting wins." It didn't help that the Capitals were 0 for 5 on the power play Thursday after going 6 for 12 in their previous three contests. Three of Washington star Alex Ovechkin's five goals this season have come with the man-advantage. The high-scoring Russian has only one point - an assist - in three career home games versus Colorado.
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