A game featuring two speedy teams seemed to be bogged down in low risk/low reward plays for two periods. Both teams spent lots of time on the perimeter and neutral zone with few quality scoring chances in close. And then the 3rd period happened.
Quick and Dirty recap for those that missed it:
Avs came out jumping peppering old friend Peter Budaj with shots. Cody McLeod fought for little benefit other than equalizing the ice for the Canadiens. Patrick Bordeleau gave George Parros a beatdown shortly thereafter. The refs gifted Montreal two power plays on ridiculously soft calls. One on Nate Guenin for being too much like Adam Foote. Giguere stood tall throughout. Unfortunately so did Budaj.
2nd Period devolved into matchups though this time it was the Avs drawing some pretty degit penalties (tripping and holding). Then a sloppy line change by Montreal and a heads-up play on the rush by Gabriel Landeskog resulted in him potting his 5th on a really quick slapshot over Budaj's shoulder. Still, to this point it was a fairly even game statistically: Shots were 21-16 Avs, both teams had two PP's, and other than an occasional flurry, not a lot of sustained pressure. Still, I thought the Avs were the better team through two.
Then, in the third period, new guy Max Talbot got called for a trip and while he was in the box the boys in Burgandy surrendered their first PK in a seeming decade. Brendan Gallager potted the rebound in front of Jean-Sebastien Giguere for his seventh of the season. That tied the game with just over 3 minutes gone in the 3rd. Would we see more neutral zone, afraid-to-lose play like we saw at Dallas the previous night or would the Avs answer the bell?
The Avs would answer the bell.
First with Nathan MacKinnon showing some hockey sense driving the lane on a rush. Budaj gave up a totally uncharacteristic (wink, wink) big rebound off of a Landeskog shot from the near boards and MacK wasted about a microsecond before sniping home the goal from between the circles. 2-1 good guys with 12 minutes to go. But the weren't through...
Invisible man Ryan O`Reilly perfectly read up a sloppy P.K. Subban end-boards pass behind the net, walked out, waited out Budaj, and roofed it. He pounced on that puck like Jamie McGinn at a Twinkie unveiling party. 3-1 Colorado with 8 minutes to go in the frame.
Montreal would use some scoring effects to put some shots on Giguere, but even with the empty man, could not break through the Avalanche defense. With Budaj on the bench for the last minute of the game, a good clear by Colorado pushed P.A. Parenteau and Matt Duchene up the ice against some tired Montreal legs. Parenteau's backhand slid wide, but Duchene kept skating and flung a centering pass the the net the Parenteau redirected for the empty netter. 4-1 is your final.
Landy - G, A, 2 hits, and about 3 dozen shots
Jiggy - 30 for 31 including a perfect 25 saves at even strength
Radar - He's been quiet for a while, but a good forecheck saw him rewarded.
Honerable Mentions: Stastny was flying around again and Johnson had a REALLY good game.
-Tanguay left in the 2nd period with a leg injury after getting tied up with one of his own guys near the Canadien net.
- McLeod had 7:27 in his return. Only Bordeleau had less.
- Balls has quietly amassed 6 assists through 12 games. Still a goose egg in the goals category though.
- The Avs are still perfect after scoring the first goal.
Scratches: Holden (healthy), Barrie (healthy), McGinn (injury)