Led by Thomas Vanek’s hattrrick the Canadiens broke open a tightchecking game with three unanswered goals in the final 5:15 and skated to a 6-3 over the Colorado Avalanche Tuesday night at the Bell Centre. It was the Canadiens third win in a row. Two of the Vanek goals, including the game winner, came on third period power plays. Travis Moen, Brandon Prust and Dale Weise also scored for the Canadiens. The Weise goal came into the empty Colorado net. Nathan MacKinnon, Maxime Talbot and Jamie McGinn scored for the Avalanche who came into Montreal riding a four game road winning streak. The shots on goal were 36-28. The three stars were Vanek, Prust and MacKinnon.
Adding It Up–
Getting It Together – Through the first period it was the same story for Vanek. There were three scoring chances that failed to materialize because of bad timing or, to be more accurate,unfamiliarity. In the second period the light went on. David Desharnais took the puck deep and then fed back to Vanek who was exactly where he was supposed to be. He put into the open side to tie the game at 1-1. 3-3 in the third period and some real magic. Desharnais down low to Pacioretty and out to Vanek . Three minutes later Vanek right at the top of the crease to deflect Emelin‘s shot to complete the hattrick.
Taking Advantage – For the last three months the Canadiens power play was among the worst in the league. The only thing most teams feared was Subban and Markov and they shut them down. In this game, Vanek was the missing link. Subban and Markov were more willing to send the puck down low, knowing that Desharnais had the weapons to go to. Vanek’s last two goals were on the power play with Pacioretty drawing assists on both.
The Warrior – Brandon Prust has a chronic shoulder problem. Midway through the first period Prust left the game favouring the problem that has kept him out of seventeen games this season. He returned in time to see the end of the period. In the second period he dove for a loose puck and swept it to Travis Moen who spun and scored to tie the game at 2-2. In the third period Prust scored to give the Canadiens a 3-2 lead. If the Desharnais line was the Canadiens best, the so called fourth line with Prust, Moen and Dale Weise was a close second. Prust said after the game that the shoulder problem was “scary” but there was no way he was going to pull himself from a game at this time of the season. He’ll be facing surgery in the off season.
In Goal – Carey Price has won both games since he returned. He had a few timing issues in the Ottawa game. Going into the game Colorado was the only team in the league against whom Price had failed to record a win. He can now strike that one off his bucket list.
Also Worth Mentioning – …..Marc Bergevin made two trade deadline moves. The first was the acquisition of Dale Weise from Vancouver. He brought needed size to the Canadiens and was very much a factor in not only this game but also the win in Buffalo Sunday. ….Of course Thomas Vanek was the other. It’s taken a few games but now there seems to be some balance now created among the four Canadiens lines. Well know more after the Canadiens go through Toronto Saturday and Boston on Monday. ….The Canadiens played a pretty complete hockey game with the exception of a stretch midway through the third period while they were holding a 3-2 lead. The Duchene/O’Reilly/McGinn caught the Habs spectating for a full minute before they tied the game at 3-3. …..The Canadiens are back in second place in the Atlantic Division and they’ve managed to pull three points ahead of fourth place Toronto. The Leafs lost in Detroit Tuesday night.
Moving On – The Canadiens get the day off Wednesday. Thursday they’ll play the Columbus Blue Jackets. After that the heavy lifting really starts with 7 of the remaining 11 games on the road.