Colorado (3-1-1) at Toronto (0-4-1)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Toronto, ON
Temp: 72° F
  • Game info: 7:30 pm EDT Tue Oct 13, 2009
  • TV: RIS, LTV
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Colorado’s strong start may be a surprise to some, just not to those in the Avalanche locker room.

The surging Avalanche look for a second straight victory as they continue their longest road trip of the season Tuesday night against the winless Toronto Maple Leafs.

Milan Hejduk(notes) scored his second goal and David Jones(notes) added one with an assist in his season debut to lead Colorado (3-1-1) to a 4-3 win at Boston on Monday afternoon.

Six months after finishing with 69 points - the fewest since the franchise moved from Quebec to Denver in 1995 - the Avalanche have earned a point in four of five contests to open the season.

“It sounds like you’re surprised,” Colorado goalie Craig Anderson(notes) said when asked about his team’s record. “One game at a time. That’s been what we pride ourselves in.”

After winning its first two games at home, Colorado recorded its first road victory Monday while improving to 1-1-1 on a seven-game road-trip - the longest since the franchise has been in Denver.

Now, the Avalanche head to Toronto, where the Maple Leafs (0-4-1) join the Islanders as the NHL’s only winless teams. This is Colorado’s first trip to Toronto since winning 4-1 there Oct. 18, 2006.

Hejduk, who has six points on the season, had two goals in the Avalanche’s 7-4 home loss to the Maple Leafs on Jan. 29. He’s scored five goals in his last three games against Toronto.

Colorado has already received a boost with Jones back. The third-year winger, who missed 34 games last season with a shoulder injury, was out since late last month with a bruised chest.

“Jonesy brings a lot to our lineup, and I can use him in a lot of different situations,” first-year coach Joe Sacco told the Avalanche’s official Web site. “He’s a big, strong power forward.”

Anderson has been strong in goal, starting all five games. A backup his previous six seasons with Chicago and Florida, Anderson made 29 saves against Boston. He is 2-1-0 with a 2.31 goals-against average against Toronto.

Backup Peter Budaj(notes), who went 20-29-5 with a 2.86 GAA last season and could make his first start this season, made 28 saves in a 4-1 win at Toronto on Oct. 18, 2006.

The Maple Leafs (0-4-1) return home after falling 7-2 to the New York Rangers on Monday. Toronto has been outscored 24-12 and given up five or more goals in three of its first five contests.

“It’s just not working,” Toronto forward Niklas Hagman(notes) said. “There’s only one way to go. We can only play better.

“We showed some good things in these games, but we just haven’t played well enough to win a game.”

Vesa Toskala(notes) dropped to 0-2-1 after giving up all seven goals, one game after making 28 saves in a 5-2 loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Though Toskala is 4-3-0 with a tie and a 2.72 GAA against Colorado, coach Ron Wilson could give Joey MacDonald(notes) his first start of the season. MacDonald, who spent last season with the Islanders, was called up from the Toronto of the AHL on Thursday when Jonas Gustavsson(notes) was put on injured reserve with a groin injury.

Alexei Ponikarovsky(notes) and Jason Blake(notes) each scored Monday for Toronto, which eagerly awaits the debut of injured star forward Phil Kessel(notes) (shoulder surgery), who isn’t expected back until mid-November.

Ponikarovsky is tied for the team lead with three goals and had two assists last season at Colorado.

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Tuesday, Oct 13