January 07, 2015

The Colorado Avalanche have one of the league's hottest lines, their starting goaltender back from injury and a dominant record against their next opponent.

What they don't have much of this season is success on home ice, but Wednesday night's matchup with the surging Ottawa Senators gives them an opportunity to change that.

The Avalanche (8-12-1) opened their seven-game, 15-day trip with a 13-3 scoring advantage in three wins before they allowed 16 goals during three straight losses.

Semyon Varlamov's return from a seven-game absence due to a groin injury provided a lift and Colorado ended its trek Monday with a 4-1 victory over Winnipeg. Varlamov stopped 20 shots in his first appearance since Nov. 5 and Cody McLeod's goal snapped a third-period tie.

"It was our seventh game of our road trip," coach Patrick Roy said. "Sometimes you can lose your focus. I'm very proud of our guys who stayed focused and paid attention to the details of the game. I thought we did a good job defending and we found ways to score the big goals."

Matt Duchene also scored to give him seven goals and six assists during a seven-game point streak. With 10 goals in November, Duchene has tied Claude Lemieux for the most in the month in Avalanche history.

Duchene, linemates Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon combined for 10 goals and 23 points on the trip.

"These three are eating a lot of minutes," Roy told the team's official website. "They're playing well. They possess the puck. It's by far our best line. They seem to click well together."

Duchene, though, has been held without a point in five of eight home games, while Landeskog has failed to score a goal in five consecutive contests there. Colorado has lost five of six at the Pepsi Center and its two home wins are the fewest in the league.

"We need to be good at home now. It's always tough, the first game coming back from a long trip," Roy said.

The Senators have proven a favorable matchup for the Avalanche, who have won eight of nine meetings and the last four at home. Ottawa hasn't won in Denver since Dec. 12, 2005.

Varlamov, who is scheduled to be in net again, has played a role in that success. He's 3-0-0 with a 1.99 goals-against average in his last three starts versus Ottawa.

The Senators, however, are enjoying their best stretch of the season with three straight wins and a 4-0-2 mark in the last six games.

Craig Anderson fell short of a third consecutive shutout but still led Ottawa (11-5-5) to a win Tuesday in the opener of a three-game trip. He turned away 33 shots in a 7-4 victory over West-leading Dallas, which had won five in a row.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau had two goals and an assist and Bobby Ryan also scored to extend his career-best point streak to nine games (four goals, seven assists).

"We had good goaltending," coach Dave Cameron said. "Just a little disappointed when we were up 5-1 that we let off a little bit and gave them some opportunities. Two-goal game, we were leading, Andy made two huge saves. And then at the end, he made a huge save."

Captain Erik Karlsson has five goals and 11 points during a seven-game streak.

Anderson has stopped 94 of 98 shots during the three-game win streak but he's 1-3-1 with a 5.55 GAA versus Colorado.

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