NHL

Avalanche-Senators Preview

There might be no great time to play five of six games on the road, and immediately after a winless four-game homestand would seem to be one of the worst.

That's what Colorado faces starting Thursday night in Ottawa, but coach Patrick Roy seems to think something positive is coming.

The Avalanche (27-25-4) have won seven of 10 on the road dating to Dec. 12 and scored 2.90 goals per game in that time. For the season, they're averaging 1.11 points per road game and 0.96 at home after blowing another lead in Tuesday's 3-1 home loss to Vancouver.

"I think it is good timing. Now we're going to refocus," Roy told the team's official website. "We've been playing well on the road. Seems like on the road we're scoring more, and we take leads and play with more confidence. Like tonight, we had the lead, no excuse."

The Avalanche are in this position after an 0-3-1 homestand that ended with them scoring one goal for the third time in six games and going 0 for 4 on the power play to dip to 1 for 12 on the losing streak. Colorado had a first-period lead in the last three and emerged with one point.

"Obviously, the last four games haven't ended the way we wanted," captain Gabriel Landeskog said. "We haven't found ways to win. We have to put an end to this. You can't afford to go on slides like this at this point of the year. We just have to find a way to get out of it."

The Avalanche are at least getting the Senators on the tail end of a back-to-back set. Ottawa is 2-7-0 with no rest, but one of those came against Colorado.

Ottawa won 5-3 in Denver on Nov. 25 behind two goals and an assist from Shane Prince, but the Avalanche have won eight of the last 10 with an average of 4.00 goals per game. Landeskog had a goal and an assist in the latest meeting and has nine points in six career games against Ottawa.

The Senators (25-24-6) are returning home after Wednesday's 3-1 loss in Detroit after a two-game home winning streak in which they totaled 11 goals. Though the offense went a bit quiet against the Red Wings, Zack Smith - who has scored in his last two against Colorado - kept his hot streak going with a goal in a third straight game.

It came on the power play, but Ottawa was 1 for 7 and is 6 of 48 (12.5 percent) in 15 games since last converting twice in one contest.

"We let them off the hook in the first period," coach Dave Cameron said. "I'd like to see us get it to the net. We were looking for the Grade A chance."

It was the first game for Dion Phaneuf after Ottawa acquired him from Toronto on Tuesday in a nine-player deal. He played a role in Detroit's winning goal, but his coach focused on more than that.

"I thought he fit right in," Cameron said. "He played in all situations for us. ... He's very vocal, I like that."

Craig Anderson faced the Red Wings, so Andrew Hammond could be in goal needing improvement from his last four games. The second-year goaltender has gone 0-2-0 in two starts and two relief efforts with a 4.80 goals-against average and .830 save percentage.

Potential counterpart Semyon Varlamov has a 3.69 GAA and .896 save percentage in consecutive losses, but he's enjoyed a 6-2-0 road stretch with 1.60 and .957 marks. He was replaced in November against the Senators and has a 3.31 GAA in seven career games against them.

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