Avs host Panthers hoping to end first losing streak

( - The Colorado Avalanche will try to snap their first losing streak of the season on Saturday night as they return home to battle the Florida Panthers.

The Avalanche won 14 of their first 16 games of the season, including six in a row on the road, before consecutive road setbacks to Carolina and St. Louis. The defeat to the Blues was a wake-up call as the Avs were routed 7-3, yielding four goals in the second period.

Ryan O'Reilly had a goal and an assist, while Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene added goals in defeat.

Jean-Sebastian Giguere got the start and yielded five goals on 23 shots. He was replaced briefly in the second period by Semyon Varlamov, who allowed two goals on six shots and was actually credited with the loss, before returning to start the third.

"There's nights like this," Colorado rookie head coach Patrick Roy remarked. "What I like about our team, even if it was a 7-1 or 7-2, we never stopped. We kept going at them. I think we just lost our focus in the second period."

Varlamov is likely to make his 13th start of the campaign tonight and is 3-1-0 with a 2.25 goals against average in four lifetime meetings with the Panthers.

Colorado is 8-2-0 at home and hosts a Florida club that has lost nine straight on the road since a win at Dallas on Oct. 3 to open the campaign. The Panthers are 0-8-1 as the visiting team since and dropped a 3-2 decision in Minnesota on Friday night.

Tomas Kopecky and Jonathan Huberdeau scored goals in the third period as the Panthers erased a two-goal deficit, but the Wild's Charlie Coyle potted the game winner less than four minutes after Huberdeau tied the game.

"We need to learn how to play 60 minutes because that's what kills us," Huberdeau said. "We're always down."

Tim Thomas stopped 17 shots for the Panthers, who had snapped an 0-5-4 slide Tuesday with a win over Anaheim. However, they lost the opener of a five-game swing last night.

The 39-year-old Thomas is 2-1-0 with a 2.34 GAA in his career versus the Avs, while backup Scott Clemmensen has faced them once before. That came on Dec. 2, 2009 with the Panthers and he escaped with a 6-5 shootout win at home despite giving up five goals on 34 shots.

The Avalanche recorded a 4-3 overtime victory when the clubs last met on Jan. 18, 2012 in Colorado, their third straight home victory in the series. The Panthers have not won in Denver since Jan. 2, 2003.