The Colorado Avalanche made it six wins in a row for the second time in the young season with a 4-1 over the Canadiens Saturday night in Denver. The Avalanche scored three straight goals after Brendan Gallagher had tied the game at 1-1 early on a third period power play. Rookie Nathan MacKinnon scored the eventual game winner. Ryan O’Reilly made it 3-1 and P.A. Parenteau scored the final goal into an empty net. The Avalanche are 12-1-0 to start the season. Shots on goal in the game were 31-30 in favour of Colorado. The Hockey Night in Canada three stars were Gabriel Landeskog, Gallagher and Avalanche goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
Adding It Up –
Got It Over Early – The Canadiens fighters fought the Avalanche fighters in the games first five minutes and we could all get down to watching hockey. Ryan White fought Cody McLeod in the third minute and George Parros against Patrick Bordeleau two minutes later.
Bad Timing – At the time McLeod started the fight with White at 2:58, the Avalanche had already poured four shots in on Peter Budaj and had another two attempts miss the net. After the fights, the Canadiens got things together and actually had an 8-7 shots advantage the rest of the period.
Not His Finest Hour – P.K. Subban’s nightmare began with a first period power play that saw him cough up the puck three times and didn’t end until the scoresheet showed him on the ice for the last three goals, and a minus-3. His defensive failures overshadowed his four shots on goal and the assist on Gallagher’s goal.
Taking the Crowd Out – Playing a road game as few can, the Canadiens did their best to take a crowd that was buoyed by the Adam Foote retirement ceremonies, right out of the game. Their shutdown game completely took the flow out of the game through the first 11 minutes of the second period when they forced 18 faceoffs. One mistake at 11:14 let the crowd back in.
The Magic Ends – Peter Budaj’s shutout streak ended at 128:46 when Gabriel Landeskog came off the bench to grab a lose puck at the Canadiens line and send a rocket past him to put Colorado ahead in the game. The Canadiens were guilty of failing to support Douglas Murray who was holding the line when the puck got lost in his skates and Landeskog was allowed to move in unchecked.
Seen Enough – David Desharnais’ troubles have been well documented and he showed no improvement in this game. But, Lars Eller has been given a free pass because of those 5 goals and 2 assists in the season’s first five games. No more. Ten games without a goal and only 2 assists on a line that has Gallagher and Galchenyuk on it, will do that. In the third period Therrien really shook things up, putting Pacioretty with Galchenyuk and Gallagher. Gallagher, not Galchenyuk took the third period faceoffs winning three of six. The line took six of the Canadiens 14 third period shots.
The Payoff – The move paid quick dividends. Pacioretty, Gallagher and Galchenyuk were on the ice for a power play on their second shift together. Gallagher right in the blue paint as usual, jammed Subban’s rebound past Giguere to tie the game. With seven goals, Gallagher is the team’s leading scorer.
The Remainder – Not much. The Plekanec line was left intact although their total offensive contribution to the game was three shots. Eller wound up on a jury rigged line with Bourque and first Louis Leblanc and then Desharnais on the right wing. Those lines produced one third period shot.
No Momentum – The Canadiens couldn’t feed off the goal, for reasons of fatigue, altitude or simply how well the Avalanche were playing. Nathan MacKinnon came off the bench and wasn’t picked up by either Subban or Michael Bournival for what proved to be the game winner. And Ryan O’Reilly took advantage of an awful pass by Subban for the clincher. Lights out.
Worth Mentioning –
….Max Pacioretty needed one shift to shake off the rust of those eight missed games. After that he was flying. Therrien rewarded the effort with 28 shifts and 21:00 minutes. Only Markov and Subban logged more. Pacioretty and Gallagher shared the shots lead with five each.….Michael Bournival was as energenic as ever but failed to register a shot on goal, but his entire line suffered an offensive blackout. …. Desharnais was given three shifts in the third period……While Lars Eller has failed to score in the last ten games, Alex Galchenyuk has one goal over the same span while Brendan Gallagher has scored four times. …..The Canadiens are 5-6-0 against West Division teams so far this season. Following their game against the Blues Tuesday, 15 of their next 16 games will be against Eastern opponents. …… Denver has always been a Canadiens graveyard, even when Colorado’s teams were poor. Since 1995-96 when the Nordiques moved to Colorado the Canadiens have won just one of 11 games (1-8-2).
What’s Ahead – It doesn’t get easier. The Canadiens, now with a two game losing streak going, return home to face the 8-2-2 St. Louis Blues. Expect some lineup changes. How many will be based on how much Michel Therrien wants to tinker with what he likes to call his “team balance”. But something has be done to solve the Desharnais and Eller problems.