|Avalanche head to Toronto seeking 10th straight win|
TORONTO -- The Colorado Avalanche will be striving to extend their nine-game winning streak and the Toronto Maple Leafs will be trying to start their own streak Monday night at the Air Canada Centre.
The Avalanche are coming off a 3-1 win over the New York Rangers on Saturday afternoon at the Pepsi Center in Denver and have not lost since Dec. 27.
The Maple Leafs came back with three third-periods goals Saturday night to end a four-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa.
The Avalanche started their streak on Dec. 29 against the Maple Leafs with a 4-3 overtime victory at Denver.
"I'm just happy with the way our guys are playing," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said after the game Saturday. "We had another real strong game, strong start, got the lead. Winning habits -- kind of a mirror image of the way we've been playing at home for the last little bit."
Colorado's team-record winning streak is 12 games, which was set Jan. 10-Feb. 7, 1999.
"(The streak) just speaks to commitment to team play," Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson said. "We're playing with pace and a lot of teams just don't have an answer for it right now. When we play like that to start the game and the period, it puts teams on their heels and we've gotten enough goals to keep the lead and win the game."
Colorado center Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and an assist Saturday to stretch his points streak to nine games. He has had more than one point in a game 18 times this season. He also has scored a goal in five straight games.
Avalanche goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who played three seasons with the Maple Leafs, is on an eight-game winning streak.
Bernier was signed in July as a free agent to back up Semyon Varlamov, who has missed six games in a row with a groin injury and is expected to be unavailable for at least the next two games.
The game in Toronto is the first of six in a row on the road for the Avalanche.
The Maple Leafs were trailing 3-1 after two periods Saturday, but apparently inspired by a speech by center Patrick Marleau between the second and third periods, went on to win in regulation for the first time since Dec. 28.
"When players take over the team and own the team and own what they do, you're a much better team," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said after the game. "I was impressed with what happened tonight."
"I didn't really tell them anything they didn't already know," Marleau said. "It was just a great effort there in the third to come back and get the two points that we desperately need to turn things around here. I think that was a step in the right direction.
"I just think it was time (to speak out). We have been going through a little bit of a skid here but just working our way out of it. We needed everybody, and everybody bought in, which is good."
Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, who scored one of the third-period goals Saturday and had a first-period assist, said, "(Marleau) is a pretty soft-spoken guy, but you know when he says something you better listen up and I think that kind of got the ball rolling. We had our heads down going into the third period in the locker room and just said we were going to go out there and score one and see what happens. Just put our foot on the pedal so big win for us."
The Maple Leafs played Saturday without defenseman Morgan Rielly, who has an upper-body injury that is not considered serious. He will be checked out again to determine his availability for Monday.