After a hard fought victory in Toronto Wednesday night, the Colorado Avalanche made the trip to Montreal to take on the Canadiens. After dominating the first half of the game, the Avalanche began to show fatigue but were able to hang on for a 3-2 win thanks to a great third period from Pavel Francouz.
Gabriel Landeskog and Andre Burakovsky were back in the lineup but just when we think the Avalanche are finally going to have their full complement of forwards, we got news before the game that Nazem Kadri is out due to a lower body injury.
The game got off to a scary start as Nikita Zadorov put a hit on Jesperi Kotkaniemi that Habs fans aren’t happy about. Kotkaniemi hit his head on the ice pretty hard as his legs were swept out from under him. Hopefully he’s ok but he definitely looked like he was suffering from a pretty serious head injury.
The Avalanche jump out to a 1-0 lead as Cale Makar did what Cale Makar does. The rookie defender led the rush from his own zone, creating a scoring chance that eventually saw Ryan Graves putting the puck behind Cayden Primeau. You don’t usually like to see your two defenders deep in the offensive zone but hey, it paid off this time.
Nearly 10 minutes later Landeskog proved he hadn’t missed a beat as he scored in his first period after missing the previous 16 games. The captain’s fourth of the season was was a beautiful one as he came in on his off-wing and was able to throw the puck over the shoulder of Primeau, extending the lead to 2-0.
After dominating the first 15 minutes of the game, the Avalanche had a rough final quarter of the period. Despite some scrambled play, Pavel Francouz was able to hold down the first as the Avs ended up being out shot 15-14 in the period but went into the intermission with the two goal lead.
After a slow first five minutes of the period, the Avalanche were forced to kill off a penalty as Pierre-Edouard Bellemare took an offensive zone penalty. For the second straight night, the Avs were able to take advantage of an inept power play as Matt Calvert scored a shorthanded goal off a great pass from J.T. Compher. Calvert’s fifth of the season gave the Avalanche a 3-0 lead at the midway point of the game.
The Canadiens finally showed a little push back late in the period as Brendan Gallagher ended the shut out effort. His 12th goal of the season brought the score to 3-1 heading into the second intermission.
Early in the period, Andre Burakovsky took a lazy penalty to put the Habs back on the power play. It didn’t take them long to capitalize as Nick Cousins beat Francouz to cut the lead to one.
Nursing a 3-2 lead, the Avalanche were gifted the next power play but were not able to make anything of it.
AS the third period wore on, it became obvious which team was on the second leg of a back-to-back. The Avs are just trying to hold onto the lead while Montreal put on the pressure. Thankfully, Pavel Francouz was up to the task as he had an incredible final 10 minutes, allowing the Avalanche to escape with a 3-2 victory.
This was an impressive win, particularly since MacKinnon didn’t look like himself. He was fighting the puck all night but in a reverse of most nights, it was his teammate who were able to pick him up and secure the victory. The result gives the Avalanche four points thus far on the road trip and now they’ll be playing with house money as they head to Boston to take on the Bruins Saturday night.