Avalanche beat Maple Leafs 4-2 for 10th straight win
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TORONTO (AP) Colorado goalie Jonathan Bernier heard the Bronx cheers from the Air Canada Centre crowd on Monday night.
He remembers listening to Toronto fans giving him the same sort of hard time when he was a member of the Maple Leafs as they struggled through the 2015-16 season.
"It's not as bad when you are the away team," he said.
Bernier made 29 saves in his first start at the ACC since Toronto traded him in July 2016, Blake Comeau scored the go-ahead goal with 7:43 left and the Avalanche extended their winning streak to 10 games with a 4-2 victory over the Maple Leafs.
The 29-year-old Bernier, who has won straight in place of injured starter Semyon Varlamov, struggled in his final season with Toronto, which was rebuilding at the time. Hometown crowds would serenade him when he gave up soft goals and at one point he found himself back in the American Hockey League on a conditioning stint.
All that adversity made the Avalanche's win in Toronto that much sweeter for the Quebec native.
"That's one of those games you look on the calendar and want to play and want to win," Bernier said. "Mixed feelings. I had some great memories and bad memories here. I wanted to make sure I brought my A game and gave my team a chance to win."
Comeau beat a backchecking Auston Matthews to the net and redirected Carl Soderberg's feed past goalie Frederik Andersen to put Colorado ahead 3-2. Gabriel Landeskog added an empty-net goal in the final minute to seal it.
Gabriel Bourque and Nail Yakupov also scored for the surprising Avalanche (27-16-3), who have surged into a crowded race for the two Western Conference wild cards.
Matthews and Patrick Marleau scored for the Maple Leafs (26-18-5). Andersen stopped 23 shots in defeat.
"Couple minor mistakes and they capitalized on them," Matthews said. "Pretty good game by us but they're a hot team and capitalized."
Colorado began its winning streak with a 4-3 overtime victory on Dec. 29 at home against Toronto.
Bourque opened the scoring 2:19 into the game, banging in the rebound of a shot by Tyson Jost that Andersen took in the chest and couldn't corral.
Marleau tied it 19 seconds into the second, firing a one-timer from the top of the faceoff circle over Bernier's glove on a setup from Leo Komarov.
Matthews thought he gave Toronto the lead on a goal-mouth scramble, tapping in a loose puck after it hit Zach Hyman in the skate and skipped behind the Avalanche netminder. But Colorado coach Jared Bednar challenged for goalie interference and the call was overturned, angering counterpart Mike Babcock on the Maple Leafs' bench.
"I've got texts from half the coaches telling me that should be a goal, so if the coaches don't know, we don't know. But I'm not worried about that," Babcock said.
Matthews scored off William Nylander's rebound on his next shift after the disallowed goal, and made sure everyone knew it was a good goal by pointing at the net like an official and showing some rare emotion as he celebrated at 9:17.
"Just made sure the puck was in this time. Was pretty excited about that one," Matthews said.
Matthews' goal was the first time Colorado had trailed during its win streak, but that only lasted 94 seconds before Yakupov took a cross-ice pass from Alexander Kerfoot and beat Andersen at 10:51.
"That's one of the things I'm happy about," Bednar said. "We fall behind, Toronto started to get some juice and we were able to respond and answer back. I think it shows we're maturing as a group."
NOTES: Nathan MacKinnon, chosen the NHL's first star of the week earlier in the day after posting four goals and six points in three Colorado wins, had his nine-game point streak snapped. His line was held in check all night until Landeskog scored into an empty net. "Another good indication of what I liked," Bednar said. "They might not have had the best night offensively but we still found a way with our other lines to get the job done." ... Just before the game, the Maple Leafs announced that defenseman Morgan Rielly was placed on injured reserve. He missed his second straight game because of an upper-body injury sustained Thursday against Philadelphia. "We don't think it's real serious, but it's serious enough he isn't playing," Babcock said.
Avalanche: Will try to extend their winning streak to 11 games Tuesday night in Montreal.
Maple Leafs: At the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night.
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Updated January 23, 2018