As the road trip continues the Colorado Avalanche made a stop in Montreal for the first segment of a back-to-back. It wasn’t smooth sailing and Colorado just couldn’t hold off Montreal in this 4-3 loss in what was a bit of a half-hearted contest.
With a depleted lineup the Avalanche started out of the gate with good momentum and drew the game’s first power play. Ross Colton replacing Val Nichushkin on the top unit got his own rebound and potted the game’s first goal at 4:28. Montreal returned the favor by drawing their own power play and they also converted at 7:17 as Juraj Salfkovsky found a loose puck in the crease. Colorado generally had control the rest of the first period but Montreal managed the 16-14 shot advantage in the tie 1-1 game.
Vintage Cale Makar showed up just a minute into the second period as he unleashed an absolute bomb of a shot which found the back of the net. The Avalanche had total control of the period until a 5-on-3 took the wind out of their sails. Montreal took the momentum back as Rafael Harvey-Pinard evened the score once again at 16:08 when he stuck with batting a puck in the crease. Score was tied 2-2 after 40 minutes of play.
To start the third period it was Montreal who grabbed their first lead of the game at 1:52 as Cole Caufield converted on their power play. It took some 4-on-4 action for the Avalanche to find the equalizer as a shot from Devon Toews at 9:37 fooled Jake Allen. It seemed like the game was headed to overtime but at just under five minutes to go Joel Armia was first to the puck on a completely scrambled shift in which no Avalanche knew where the puck was and poked the puck past Alexandar Georgiev. While the Avalanche tried to tie things with the extra attacker they came up empty in this 4-3 loss.
Missed opportunities was the story of this loss as converting once in four opportunities and almost seven minutes of the man advantage just wasn’t good enough. The Avalanche let Montreal hang around and despite firing 35 shots on net they allowed 34. Georgiev was also pretty average and will very likely get a night off next game for Justus Annunen to get one last opportunity with the organization.
The lineup wasn’t ideal with now Val Nichushkin absent for the foreseeable future. Rolling out three fourth lines with both Kurtis MacDermid and Caleb Jones at forward underscores the paper thin depth and once again the Avalanche chose to travel with no extra players. Miles Wood and Artturi Lehkonen are expected back soon but it will only take one injury to be back at a lineup that can’t score outside of the top line who were utilized for 29 minutes again tonight.
This team still wins more than they lose and are in excellent position overall but nights like tonight will be points left on the table. Hopefully it doesn’t end up mattering down the line.
The second game in the back-to-back against the Ottawa Senators tomorrow night, also at 5 p.m. MT.