Avs shoot for perfect homestand against Canadiens

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(SportsNetwork.com) - The Colorado Avalanche hope to carry their recent surge into December as they open a new month against the sliding Montreal Canadiens in Monday's battle at Pepsi Center.

The Avalanche won only four times in their first 17 games of the season, but Colorado has exceeded that win total during its recent 5-2-0 stretch. The hot stretch has last season's Central Division champions on the cusp of .500 with a 9-10-5 record in 2014-15.

Colorado hopes to keep heading in the right direction Monday when the Canadiens visit Denver trying to snap a three-game losing streak. Montreal is 0-2-1 during the slide and hasn't lost four straight since Jan. 18-25 of last season.

Tonight's tilt marks the fourth time Colorado's Patrick Roy is facing his old team as a head coach. Roy, of course, led Montreal to a pair of Stanley Cup titles in 1986 and 1993 -- the franchise's last championship -- before winning two more championships with the Avalanche in 1996 and 2001.

Roy's Avs posted a 4-1 home win over the Habs on Nov. 2 of last season, but Montreal answered with two straight home wins, including a 3-2 regulation victory on Oct. 18.

The Avalanche have dominated the Canadiens in Denver since moving to Colorado from Quebec City following the 1994-95 season, going 8-1-0 with a tie in the 10 all-time meetings in the Mile High City.

Colorado is 1-1-0 on a three-game homestand that ends tonight. The Avs opened the set with a 3-2 loss to Chicago, but bounced back with Saturday's 5-2 win over the Dallas Stars.

Alex Tanguay recorded a goal and two assists to help the Avs skate past the Stars. Tanguay has record at least one point in seven of his last nine games and has four goals and five assists during that stretch.

"It feels good," said Tanguay. "We've been working extremely hard, we're trying to get better."

Matt Duchene, Jarome Iginla, Danny Briere and Gabriel Landeskog added tallies for the Avalanche. Tyson Barrie picked up three assists and Calvin Pickard stopped 22 shots for the victory.

Pickard, a 22-year-old rookie, has earned the win in Colorado's last three victories and will get the start again tonight. No. 1 goaltender Semyon Varlamov has sat out the last five games with a groin injury, but could return in the next game for the Avs when they visit Calgary on Thursday.

After suffering consecutive regulation losses, Montreal was able to earn a point in Saturday's shootout loss against visiting Buffalo. The Canadiens were swept by the Sabres in a home-and-home series despite entering the set with a 19-point lead over Buffalo in the standings.

The Sabres notched a 2-1 win over the Habs on Friday and recorded a 4-3 triumph the following night. Buffalo's Brian Flynn tied the game late in the third period to force overtime and produced the lone goal of the shootout.

After each team's first four shootout participants were unsuccessful, Tomas Plekanec followed suit for Montreal as Jhonas Enroth calmly turned aside his offering with a stick save. Flynn then put an end to the skills competition with a shot into an open net off a slick backhand-forehand deke past a sliding Dustin Tokarski.

Brendan Gallagher, Max Pacioretty and Lars Eller all lit the lamp for Montreal, while Tokarski made 23 saves in defeat.

Just before the game, the Canadiens announced they had signed Gallagher to a six-year, $22.5 million extension. The 22-year-old has picked up five goals and 12 points in 24 games this season and has 39 goals and 81 points over 149 career tests.

"I'm really fortunate to be able to play in Montreal. This city is awesome," Gallagher told his team's website.

Carey Price expects to start for the Canadiens tonight. The No. 1 netminder is 13-5-1 this season and owns a lifetime 2-2-1 record and 3.18 goals against average in five career games against the Avs.

Montreal is kicking off a four-game road trip tonight and is 7-4-1 as the visiting team this season.