The Montreal Canadiens will begin their longest road trip of the season tonight with a tough test at the Pepsi Center against the streaking Colorado Avalanche.
The Canadiens were able to end a three-game losing streak their last time out when they notched a 4-3 win over visiting Boston this past Thursday. However, Montreal has lost two straight and four of its last five road games and would like to turn things around as the guest during this seven-game swing that ends New Year's Eve against the Florida Panthers.
Montreal, which is in first place in the Northeast Division, has done much of its damage this year on home ice. The Habs are 12-5-2 at the Bell Centre compared to a 7-6-0 record away from La Belle Province.
"This trip represents a big challenge for the team. Seven games on the road can be a really positive thing and a good chance for the team to build on the win from last night," forward Michael Cammalleri told the Canadiens' official website on Friday. "We're planning on making the most of the trip, working hard and coming back home with as many points possible."
Colorado, meanwhile, has won its last five games overall and the Avalanche have won six of their last seven games in Denver to improve to 9-4-1 on home ice this year.
The Avs began a five-game homestand with Friday's wild overtime victory over Ottawa. Matt Duchene scored 2:36 into overtime to lift Colorado to the 6-5 victory over the Senators at the Pepsi Center.
In the extra session, Duchene got the puck from Tomas Fleischmann along the boards near mid-ice and flew into the Ottawa end. From the left circle, he let fly with a shot that beat Brian Elliott for the win.
"I got a good pass and I was off to the races," said Duchene. "The puck rolled a bit, but I was able to get it on net. It was a great feeling getting that, and we are a good comeback team."
Kevin Porter had a goal and an assist while Ryan O'Reilly, T.J. Galiardi and Cody McLeod each had a goal for the Avalanche. Craig Anderson stopped 24 shots in the win.
The Avalanche are in the midst of their longest winning streak of 2010-11 and tonight the club can match its lengthiest hot streak since another six-game stretch from Jan. 9-24 of last season.
However, Colorado has some injury concerns to worry about heading into tonight. The Avs were without Paul Stastny due to a back injury in the last game and the center is day-to-day with his ailment. Stastny, who is tied with Duchene for the team lead with 13 goals, is questionable for tonight, as are Milan Hejduk (groin) and David Van Der Gulik (knee).
Montreal recorded a close victory over the rival Boston Bruins on Thursday thanks in part to captain Brian Gionta notching the game-winner late in the second period. Carey Price also stopped 34-of-37 shots as the Habs clipped Boston, 4-3, at Bell Centre.
Mike Cammalleri, Max Pacioretty and Maxim Lapierre also tallied for the Canadiens.
Meanwhile, Price, who allowed a season-high five goals in a loss to the Flyers on Wednesday, recovered to halt a personal two-game losing skid. Price is 18-9-2 on the year with a stellar 2.10 goals-against average, however, he suffered a loss while surrendering three goals in his only career game against the Avalanche.
Tonight's test marks the only meeting of the regular season between the Avs and Habs. Colorado recorded a regulation win last season in Montreal, giving the Avalanche just their second victory in the last five meetings between the clubs. The Canadiens, however, have just one win in their last 11 road games in this series, losing seven times and playing to three ties over that span.