In Erik Johnson’s 800th career NHL game, the Colorado Avalanche were able to recover well from their demolishing Wednesday night. At the short end of the stick tonight was the Montreal Canadiens, who were beaten 4-1 Thursday night.
The star of the show was Logan O’Connor, whose work ethic and energy gave the Avs plenty of chances. Cale Makar got his league-leading 10th goal of the season and is the game-winning goal tonight.
The first half of the period did not have much going. Alex Newhook took a hooking penalty that didn’t lead to anything. The Avs did give Montreal some chances with a couple of turnovers but there was nothing that tested Jonas Johansson too hard.
Thinsg got turned up a little bit in the second half of the period when Valeri Nichushkin had a great chance in the slot that was turned away by Jake Allen. He came in handy again when O’Connor had a semi-breakaway on the penalty kill that he stopped.
Nathan MacKinnon was still looking to get himself going this season missing out through injury. He found himself walking in on Allen on a late power play from his spot. Allen was able to track it and flash his glove to keep it scoreless heading into the break.
After a couple of chances on each goaltender early on, the Avs found themselves on the penalty kill once again. However, it would not be the Canadiens to get the lead.
O’Connor steamed down the ice and forced a turnover in the offensive zone, handing it off to Nichushkin who was just barely able to squeeze one past Allen and across the line for the 1-0 advantage.
They had a couple more chances shorthanded that could not be converted. It would hurt the Avs as Gabriel Landeskog committed a boarding penalty on Tyler Tofolli that led to a Ben Chiarot power play goal from the blue line to tie it at one.
After a horrendous power play from the Avs and no real chances for either side, Cale Makar found himself up top with space. He would shoot one through traffic and past Allen to give the Avs a huge 2-1 lead heading into the intermission.
After Montreal came out on the front foot, down in their defensive zone a scramble ensued. After the puck travelled through the blue paint a few times, Andre Burakovsky would put one past a sprawling Allen stuck on his back like a turtle to extend the lead to 3-1.
Both Johansson and Allen made some big saves for their teams respectively. Allen was the busier of the two down on his end of the ice as the Avs did everything in their power to kill off the game. On a power play drawn by MacKinnon, the first unit did everything but score.
After a big kill by the Avs after Landeskog committed a tripping penalty, it would be the captain who put one into an empty net with just under three minutes left to kill off the game 4-1.
Two guys deserve high praise for their efforts tonight. O’Connor had the highest energy level out of everyone in the lineup and made big marquee plays. He set up the shorthanded goal for Nichushkin, and chased down every puck and created opportunities for others. On the other end, Johansson made some solid saves and had a great comeback effort after his dismal night against Toronto.
Special teams was in full effect tonight for both sides. Besides the Avs’s shorthanded goal, they gave up five penalties including the Habs’s power play goal as they went 1-for-5 on the night. This is something to be addressed by Jared Bednar and his coaching staff for the Avs to continue to climb up the standings.
TSN announced during the game that Darcy Kuemper had been injured by a shot up high on him during practice before the Toronto game. However, he has been left out for precautionary reasons. With that being said, hopefully his injury isn’t serious and it may possible for him to see some action on the rest of this road trip or sometime afterwards.
The road trip continues, this time visiting the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night. Puck drop is set for 5 p.m. MT.