Habs Over Avs in Tight Game


The Colorado Avalanche hosted the Montreal Canadiens for their second and last meeting of the season. Montreal was coming off of a three-game losing skid. The Avalanche had won five of their last seven games, but were still trying to get to 500 hockey for the first time this season.

Despite what was on the line — or maybe because of it — the teams seemed to start off with some trepidation. They tended to play safe hockey, watching to get the each other’s mettle.

Montreal forward Jiri Sekac opened up the scoring halfway through the first period. It started with a nifty save by Montreal goalie Carey Price on defenseman Nick Holden‘s wrist shot. Not only did Price make the save, but he kept the puck in play. The Canadiens drove it down the ice. The Avs got caught pinching in — obviously since Holden took that shot — which resulted in a three-on-two. Sekac scored on a wrister — and Price got an assist on the play.

For awhile Montreal tried to use that to gain momentum. However, certain Avs players have their own agenda, and Daniel Briere is one such. He was a healthy scratch for seven straight games, and pundits started making “washed up” noises. Not only that, he played for the Montreal Canadiens. In short, he scored at 19:26 of the first period to tie the game.

Briere said of the goal:

"“Every time you score against your former team, it feels a little extra special. At the same time, we had been playing well up to that point, so it felt good to get that goal.”"

The Avs scored in the last minute of the first and decided to score in the first minute of the second. Defenseman Erik Johnson made an outlet pass to center Matt Duchene, who used his speed to motor himself up the boards. Duchene fed the puck to veteran Alex Tanguay, who used his supreme hockey vision for a pass right onto Ryan O’Reilly‘s stick. All O’Reilly had to do was angle his stick, and the puck sailed in.

A little later, though, the puck got turned over in the Avalanche’s zone. The Avs managed to avoid Montreal’s score, but defenseman Nate Guenin took a penalty.

The Montreal Canadiens’ power play hasn’t been great — except against the Avalanche. They continued their power play streak with a goal by Canadien Andrew Markov.

Halfway through the second period, Duchene seemed to score on a beautiful wrist shot, one of his signature plays from the slot. He even celebrated — the whole arena came to its feet. Unfortunately, the puck had banked off of both posts, but never went in. No goal.

More from Mile High Sticking

Remember when head coach

Patrick Roy

stated he wanted players putting pucks on net? One guy at least was listening — defenseman

Tyson Barrie

. Despite the presence of three forwards in the offensive zone, Barrie pinched in. He whipped around and threw the puck on the net from a bad angle. It bounced off of Canadien

Brandon Prust

and into the net. The Avs were up 3-2.

Unfortunately, Montreal’s P.K. Subban decided to show the Avs that Canadien defensemen can score, too. He tied the game at 4:44 of the second. At that point, the Canadiens were outshooting the Avalanche 24 to 18, so rookie goalie Calvin Pickard was keeping the Avs in the game.

The third period started with a Montreal Canadiens power play with Alex Tanguay in the box. It was their second of the night while Colorado hadn’t had a similar opportunity.

That changed almost six minutes into the third period when Montreal skater Lars Eller dragged defenseman Zach Redmond down near the boards. He went for tripping. The Avs had some good scoring opportunities, but apparently they didn’t even get a shot on goal.

Play got wild as the period neared the halfway mark. The Canadiens put a lot of pressure on the Avs, who then drove it back to Carey Price.

At the 8:13 mark, linesman Derek Amell was injured when he went over hard on his back. Play stopped for awhile until he skated off ice. One of the referees had to start taking on linesman duties to make up for the lack.

“Our game management needs to be better. We will learn with time. We have things to learn.” – Patrick Roy

Unfortunately, whenever defensive pairings other than Johnson-Hejda were on the ice, defense got sloppy. The Avs kept giving away the puck, and they couldn’t keep it in the offensive zone. It finally cost them when Montreal’s

Max Pacioretty

scored at the 6:06 mark to pull ahead.

Head coach Patrick Roy pulled a Patrick Roy and yanked the goalie early, with a full 2:42 left in the period. The Avs put the pressure on early, but the Canadiens were able to break up the play. The Avs came back on late with a final thrust, but they just couldn’t convert. They fell to the Canadiens 4-3, thus still not making it to 500 hockey.

The Colorado Avalanche start a two-game road trip by facing the Calgary Flames on Thursday, December 4.