Avalanche look to set aside distractions during road trip

Matt Duchene broke a tie in the third period with his sixth goal in five games and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Boston Bruins 3-2 on Thursday night.

MONTREAL — No coach agrees with a suspension against one of his top players but Patrick Roy won’t dispute the two-game ban on forward Gabriel Landeskog.

"That’s the direction the NHL wants to go and I guess we have to accept the decision and move on," the Colorado Avalanche coach said Saturday.

Landeskog was suspended for a blind side hit to the head of Bruins winger Brad Marchand during the Avalanche’s 3-2 win in Boston on Thursday night. Marchand got up and punched Landeskog in the face, drawing a fine from the league.

Landeskog will sit out two big dates in the middle of the Avs’ six-game road trip — Saturday night in Montreal and Tuesday night in Toronto.

His spot on the right side of the top line with Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene was taken by Mikhail Grigorenko, who set up Duchene for the game-winner in Boston after Landeskog was ejected.

Grigorenko, a 2012 first round draft pick who was obtained in June from Buffalo in the multi-player deal that sent Ryan O’Reilly to the Sabres, had three assists in his first 13 games with Colorado. The Russian was a top junior prospect for Roy when he coached the Quebec Remparts, but is still trying to establish himself in the NHL.

"Grigo has really good hands, great vision," said Roy. "Not the fastest skater.

"The area he needs to improve is on the one-on-one battles. He needs to be more resilient and make sure he wins more battles. But he brings great IQ, great hands and he’s got a really good shot. When he puts it on net, he’s always a dangerous forward."

The Landeskog suspension came just as the Avalanche got on an upswing. The 6-9-1 Avs opened the road trip with a 4-0 win in Philadelphia.

"It is tough," said MacKinnon. "We’ll lose him for a couple of big games against Montreal and Toronto, but two out of 82 (games), you have to look at the big picture.

"Gabe’s a huge piece for us. One of our best players. Our leader. We can’t fill his void. We just have to step up and play better."

It’s already been an eventful trip, with rumours swirling that Duchene may be traded. Roy said that was part of playing in Canada and that he didn’t hear any rumours until he got to Montreal.

Duchene just hopes they go away. He has been doing his bit to quell them with five points in the first two games on the trip.

"That’s hockey," said Duchene. "Whether it’s true or not, no one really knows.

"If anything, it makes you a bit more motivated and excited. Obviously I want to stay here and that’s my focus."

The win in Philadelphia saw Jarome Iginla score his 596th career goal. He should soon become the 19th player to reach 600 goals. He’ll need 601 to catch 18th place Jari Kurri.

"It’s a bit surreal," said 38-year-old Iginla. "When I started I didn’t think I’d get to that.

"I’d look at guys getting 500 and try to do the math and how many years it would take. I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve been healthy. Those type of numbers and who did it and all that, you don’t think about it during the year. But for my family and stuff it’s pretty neat. I’d be lying if I said ‘oh it’s just another whatever.’ Hopefully I can get it soon and then just keep playing."

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