The Montreal Canadiens rolled into Colorado, hoping to avoid a season-high four-game losing streak. The Avalanche, for their part, were vocal about not wanting a repeat of their last meeting with the Canadiens: a 10-1 defeat on December 10 at the Bell Centre. The Avalanche won versus the Jets on Saturday, putting an end to a nine-game losing streak and giving them a bit of confidence coming in.
The game got off to a quick start as the first shot of the game, a Mikko Ratanen wrister from the half boards, found its way past Carey Price just 30 seconds in.
A quick two minutes later, Andreas Martinsen scored his third of the year on a two-on-one, putting the Avalanche up two early.
The Canadiens seemed to settle down a bit, putting a little pressure on in the offensive zone, but to no avail. They couldn’t stop the flow of the Avalanche for long as play moved up and down the ice with chances at each end.
Paul Byron’s speed created Montreal’s first power-play opportunity of the game, as Fedor Tyutin was sent off for holding halfway through the period. Montreal’s power play has gone cold of late, with the team going scoreless in their previous four games. This power play produced a good chance for Artturi Lehkonen from an Andrei Markov rebound, but Pickard made it across the crease just in time.
With five minutes to go in the first, Montreal was outshooting Colorado 9-6 and the two teams continued to trade zone time as the period wound down.
The second frame started a little better than the first, as the Canadiens weathered an early storm from the Avalanche before finally getting some extended zone time complete with quality scoring chances.
The Habs were holding the lead in shots once again when Rantanen tipped Mark Barberio’s point shot to put the Avalanche up by three.
Immediately after, the Canadiens found themselves on the power play after a questionable call. Despite some good pressure and a handful of chances, the Habs emerged still scoreless.
A point-blank shot block by Shea Weber denied Rantanen the hat trick with two minutes to go in the second to keep the game at 3-0.
Danault’s speed drew yet another power play for the Canadiens as Nikita Zadorov was sent off for tripping to end the middle frame. The Avalanche escaped unscathed and the third started with the home team still up by three.
Montreal had a chance right away in the third, but couldn’t pounce on Pickard’s rebound quick enough.
Five minutes in, newcomer Nikita Nesterov lost the handle on a pass, leading to a Gabriel Landeskog breakaway. Landeskog shot wide but not before Nesterov was called for hooking at the beginning of the play. Before that penalty was killed, Plekanec was tagged for a slash that broke Jarome Iginla’s stick, giving the Avalanche 42 seconds of five-on-three time. They’d only need a fraction of that to give Rantanen the hat trick and Colorado the 4-0 lead.
The Canadiens managed to kill the remaining 1:41 of Plekanec’s penalty and the period continued on uneventfully until, tempers flaring, Pacioretty and Landeskog stirred things up with 10 minutes to go, sparking a meeting of the minds at the benches. The activity culminated in two minutes of 4-on-4.
They’d only make it through 1:20 though, until Tyutin was called for tripping when Weber was felled behind the net to put Montreal on the man advantage. The Habs wouldn’t score, though Weber perhaps broke Long Beach native Matt Nieto with his patented slapshot from the point.
The Canadiens managed a few more chances as the period wound down, getting 16 seconds on the power play to finish the game. Despite a couple of good looks, Calvin Pickard finished with the shutout and a 4-0 win.
- Since having players return from injury, the Habs have seemingly had trouble communicating on the ice, resulting in some scrambly play. It’s almost like acquiring a bunch of new players all at once. It will take some time to get that chemistry and timing back, but they will.
- The Avalanche came out with a purpose tonight and got two quick and less-than-stellar goals that allowed them some breathing room for the rest of the game. They were on a mission tonight and they achieved it. All kudos to them.
- I mean ... one has to go in eventually, right? I’m calling a Mike Smith butt goal on Thursday versus the Coyotes.