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17-10-5

Avalanche-Canucks Preview

AP - Sports

The Colorado Avalanche are playing much better away from home under first-year coach Patrick Roy after finishing with the fewest road victories in the NHL last season.

The Avalanche will look to end an eight-game losing streak in Vancouver when they visit the Canucks on Sunday night.

Colorado (20-7-0) finished the lockout-shortened 2013 campaign with a 4-16-4 road mark, but the team has turned it around this season, improving to 10-3-0 on the road with Friday's 3-2 win at Calgary.

Maxime Talbot scored his first goal in 16 games since being acquired from Philadelphia on Oct. 31, then assisted on P.A. Parenteau's goal 54 seconds later in the second period that turned out to be the winner.

"I'm so happy for Max. When you score, you feel such relief," Roy said. "He's been playing hard."

Talbot was happy to put that burden behind him.

"It's about time. I waited a lot of games for this," he said. "After this goal, you have 50 pounds off your shoulders."

Rookie Nathan MacKinnon added a goal and Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 26 saves as Colorado bounced back after allowing a season high for goals in a tough 8-2 loss at Edmonton. The Avs have won six of eight overall.

"It was very important," Giguere said. "We needed to respond the right way, show everybody that we're human, the same as anyone else. We might lose some games where we didn't play well, but we're able to bounce back the next game. I thought we played a terrific."

The loss to the Oilers is the only blemish over the last five road games for Colorado, which hasn't won in Vancouver since a 4-3 shootout victory April 6, 2010.

The Canucks (16-10-5) had lost five of six at home before Chris Higgins scored in overtime to lift them over Phoenix 3-2 on Friday. They've won three straight overall, but they blew a two-goal lead before Higgins was able to help salvage two points.

Henrik Sedin and Jason Garrison scored in the second period.

"It's lesson learned for sitting back in the third period," Higgins said. "It came back to bite us. I don't think we played in their end enough in the third, weren't good on the forecheck all night, but we battled back."

While coach John Tortorella will gladly take the victory, he saw plenty that concerned him.

"I am happy we won, but I can't stand the way we won," Tortorella said. "We have to get out of this situation of not finishing games - because we are going nowhere until we do.

"I just don't think we're a good situational team right now, and that onus falls on me as a coach. I need to continue to teach that until it turns into an instinct for us."

Roberto Luongo made 37 saves and is 4-3-3 with a 2.21 goals-against average over his last 10 starts, allowing fewer than three goals eight times. He's been even better against Colorado in recent years, going 11-0-2 with a 2.06 GAA.

Giguere made 24 saves in the last meeting with Vancouver on April 13, helping the Avalanche end a 10-game overall losing streak in the series with a 4-3 win. Colorado, though, could go back to regular starter Semyon Varlamov in this contest.

Varlamov is 0-7-1 with a 2.80 GAA in seven starts and one relief appearance against the Canucks.

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