Avs try to focus on hockey in Dallas

( - The Colorado Avalanche have grabbed plenty of headlines by matching the best start in franchise history.

However, Patrick Roy's squad is now dealing with some unwanted attention.

Roy will try to prevent goaltender Semyon Varlamov's off-the-ice troubles from becoming a distraction in Dallas on Friday night when the Avs go for a fifth straight victory in a meeting with the Stars.

Colorado improved to 10-1-0 on the season with last Sunday's 3-2 victory over the visiting Winnipeg Jets. Matt Duchene scored his ninth goal of the season -- tied for third most in the league -- in the first period before Jan Hejda and Paul Stastny erased a one-goal deficit with third-period tallies.

The rally allowed the Avs to match the best start in franchise history, a 10-1-0 beginning to the 1994-95 campaign by the Quebec Nordiques.

"We came in here tonight, and although we were behind, we knew we wouldn't lose this game. We had the belief and we got the job done," said Duchene, who has four goals in his past five games.

Semyon Varlamov made 23 saves in the win, improving to 7-1-0 with a 1.76 goals against average in eight starts this season.

However, the 25-year-old Russian found himself in the headlines during the week when he was arrested on domestic violence-related charges.

Varlamov turned himself into police on Wednesday evening and is accused of assaulting his girlfriend, kicking her in the chest and dragging her by the hair. He spent Wednesday night in jail before standing before a judge on Thursday morning and was granted permission to travel with the team while also having a restraining order imposed.

Varlamov was scheduled to start tonight's game, but Roy would not commit to that plan on Thursday.

"We're just going to do exactly like we've been doing all along. We're going to take it one day at a time. We're going to focus on Dallas tomorrow," said Roy, whose club is 5-0-0 on the road this season and hosts Montreal on Saturday.

The play of backup netminder Jean-Sebastien Giguere may make Roy's decision a bit easier as he has won all three of his starts this season while posting a 0.67 GAA and two shutouts.

Giguere is 16-20-3 with a tie and 2.72 GAA in his career versus the Stars, while Varlamov is 2-3-2 with a 3.68 GAA in seven meetings.

The fallout from Varlamov's arrest overshadowed a trade made by the Avs on Thursday as they dealt forward Steve Downie to Philadelphia for Max Talbot.

Talbot registered one goal and an assist in 11 games with the Flyers this season and is expected to boost a penalty-kill unit that already ranks first in the NHL at 92.3 percent.

"Talbot has won a Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh. He's a great penalty killer. We feel he's going to bring a lot of depth to our team," said Roy.

The Stars are back in action after having a three-game point streak (2-0-1) snapped with Tuesday's 2-1 setback to the Canadiens. Cody Eakin had the lone goal and Kari Lehtonen gave up a pair of goals on 24 shots.

Dallas was shooting for back-to-back wins after having won in Buffalo the previous night.

"It was a hard-fought game," said Dallas head coach Lindy Ruff. "I thought we did a good job killing off their power plays, we had a couple of late opportunities point blank. They did a great job of being in shot lanes and blocking shots. It's probably a game we could have come out of here with points."

Dallas fell to 3-5-1 in its last nine games.

Lehtonen is 8-3-1 with a 2.50 GAA in his career versus the Avalanche, who have lost three of their last four in Dallas but did notch a 3-2 home win over the club on Oct. 15.

Varlamov made 39 saves and Duchene scored twice for Colorado.

Eakin had a goal for the Stars and backup netminder Dan Ellis made 23 saves as Lehtonen missed the game with a lower-body injury.