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Canadiens expecting extra motivated Avs in Roy’s return

Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy leads a practice at the Bell Centre Monday, March 17, 2014 in Montreal.


Let's see now, the Montreal Canadiens' Carey Price hasn't lost a start since Feb. 2, the Habs haven't lost to a team whose place name begins with "C" at home in over two years.

The Colorado Avalanche haven't dropped a game at the Bell Centre since 2006, and they've never been beaten by Price, although in fairness, they haven't been to Montreal since late 2011.

One of these trends can no longer continue, something, as they say, has got to give.

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Most of the attention ahead of Tuesday's game (7:30 p.m., RDS, TSN-Habs) has focused on the warm homecoming that surely awaits Avs coach Patrick Roy, the former Habs' goaltending legend.

There are points at stake of course, but it seems both rooms are keenly aware that Colorado will be a little extra motivated.

"It's perfectly clear to us that the club is going to do everything to get that win for Patrick. It's up to us to match them," said veteran Montreal defenceman Francis Bouillon, who grew up watching Roy but joined the Habs after he had been traded to Denver.

Fellow Quebec native Max Talbot, who joined the Avs 12 games into the season in a trade with Philadelphia, said "of course it's going to be a special night, everyone knows it's the first time back for Patrick, we want to deliver for our coach and for ourselves."

Stage set, then.

Colorado is a surprise top-five team this season, and with speed merchants like Canadian Olympian Matt Duchene and 2013 first overall draft pick Nathan MacKinnon in the lineup, should present a formidable challenge for the Canadiens, who typically have trouble with big, fast forwards.

That said, Colorado's blueline depth is nothing to write home about, the Habs have righted the ship after a three-game losing skid and are one of nine teams in the Eastern Conference who boast a winning record against opponents from the West.

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They didn't look great in their only other game against Colorado in the season's early going - a 4-1 loss in Denver which featured a match-up between backup goaltenders Peter Budaj and Jean-Sébastien Giguère.

With the Avs playing a conference game in Winnipeg on Wednesday, Roy has elected once again to go with Giguère, which is actually a bit of good news for Montreal - though Giguère, who grew up in nearby Blainville, Que., has a habit of delivering strong performances in his birthplace, regular starter Semyon Varlamov has never lost a game in regulation to the Habs in his career and is a perfect 3-0 at the Bell Centre.

Less auspicious for Montreal is the fact forwards Ryan O'Reilly and Paul Stastny will feature (both have been struggling with injury).

The Habs, meanwhile, are icing an unchanged lineup from the victory over Buffalo on Sunday. Rookie defenceman Jarred Tinordi is preferred to veteran Douglas Murray, and forward Rene Bourque will again watch from the press box.

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About the Author
National Correspondent

Sean Gordon joined the Globe's Quebec bureau in 2008 and covers the Canadiens, Alouettes and Impact, as well as Quebec's contingent of Olympic athletes. More


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