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Avalanche continue franchise best start

The SportsXchange

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche took a nostalgic ride before Saturday's game when they raised Adam Foote's jersey to the rafters.

The way this year's team is playing, it's bringing thoughts of another run at glory.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 29 saves, Gabriel Landeskog had a goal and an assist and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 on Saturday night.

Nathan MacKinnon, Ryan O'Reilly and P.A. Parenteau also scored for the Avalanche, who won their sixth straight and improved to 12-1. It's the best start in Avalanche history.

"We're 12-1 and everyone in this locker room feels like we're not satisfied," MacKinnon said. "That's the exciting part, that we can get better; 12-1 is great but 13-1 is even better."

This year's squad is off to a faster start than the 1996 and 2001 teams that won the Stanley Cup. Fans and former players listened to Foote as the retired defensemen reminisced about those years during his speech before the game. Current coach Patrick Roy was the goalie during the heyday that began 18 years ago, but Roy isn't shortchanging this year's team.

"We had something special here," he said of his playing days. "Those eight years were really wild and special. I understand why it's hard for the fans to move on but the way the guys are playing, there's starting to give them a second look."

Peter Budaj stopped 27 shots against his former team and Brendan Gallagher scored for Montreal, which has lost two straight.

The Canadiens had a chance to end Colorado's hot start when they tied it at 1 in the third, but two goals 3:30 apart were the difference.

MacKinnon got the tiebreaker when he backhanded a rebound high past Budaj with 11:59 left.

It was his second goal of the season and first in three weeks. O'Reilly iced it when he stole the puck from P.K. Subban and scored three minutes later to make it 3-1.

"It was a special night for them and we knew they were going to come out hard but I thought we weathered the storm early," Subban said. "We gave ourselves an opportunity to win the game but we have to bear down with 10 minutes left in the game."

Parenteau scored into an empty-net goal with 38 seconds left.

It made a winner of Giguere, who improved to 4-0. He came into Saturday with a gaudy 0.67 goals-against-average and two shutouts.

"My defense was so big tonight," Giguere said. "They played so well, they got the puck out of the zone and most of the time I faced one shot and the rebound was taken care of."

He and Budaj were locked in a scoreless battle until Landeskog struck midway through the game.

Landeskog came over the boards near the blueline, got a pass from Marc-Andre Cliche and beat Budaj with a slap shot over his stick at 11:14 of the second.

"High is usually tough for goalies coming down the wing," Landeskog said. "I'm not sure if mine got tipped or not, but I'll take it."

It was his fifth goal of the season and third in games in which Giguere plays. He had the only goal of the game at Pittsburgh on Oct. 21 when Giguere stopped 34 shots.

The 36-year-old Giguere was denied a shutout when Gallagher stuffed Subban's rebound between his legs for a power-play goal with 16:21 left in the third.

That snapped a streak of 22 straight penalties killed off by Colorado.

"We caught on, and as the game went on I thought we looked a little bit better," left winger Max Pacioretty said. "They got a couple of breaks at the end but I think we looked a little bit better as the game went on."

The game was chippy early, with two fights occurring in the first five minutes to set a physical tone. It helped open up the game, with both teams getting several quality chances in the first period.

NOTES: Colorado LW Alex Tanguay suffered a knee injury in the second period and did not return. Roy said he will have an MRI done Sunday or Monday. ... Avalanche players warmed up wearing No. 52 sweaters in honor of Roy, and the area behind both nets sported the retired number. Foote, now an assistant coach on Roy's staff, is the fifth former Avalanche player to have his jersey retired and the ninth in franchise history. ... Montreal D Andrei Markov played in his 699th career game Saturday. ... Colorado LW Cody McLeod returned from a five-game suspension for his hit on Detroit D Niklas Kronwall on Oct. 17. ... Saturday was the first time Budaj played against his former team. ... Avalanche LW Jamie McGinn missed his third game with a knee injury.
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