Max Pacioretty broke a 3-3 tie with just over six minutes remaining and the Canadiens survived late pressure to take a 4-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche in Denver Monday night. It was a come-from-behind win. The Habs trailed 3-2 late in the second period when P.K. Subban scored to tie it. Also scoring for the Canadiens were Jiri Sekac and Andrei Markov. Daniel Briere, Ryan O’Reilly and Tyson Barrie scored for the Avalanche. The Canadiens outshot Colorado 30-29 including 18-9 in the second period. The RDS telecast listed the three stars as Andrei Markov, Max Pacioretty and Colorado forward Matt Duchene as the three stars.
Adding It Up –
Lucky Thirteen – For almost two complete games Colorado rookie goaltender Calvin Pickard owned Max Pacioretty. Pacioretty had seven shots on him in the October meeting at the Bell Centre with nothing to show and he had five more through the first two periods of this game. His only shot on Pickard in the third and his 13th in two games was the game winner. It came off a two-on-one break with Dale Weise. His team leading 12th of the season.
Third Period Magic – The Canadiens have been outscored 22-8 in the first period. Pacioretty’s game winner was the Canadiens 31st third period goal. Eight of those third period goals have been scored by #67, second in the league only to Rick Nash’s 10.
On A Roll – Can eliminating the Rene Bourque albatross have meant that much to Lars Eller? You could make a good argument for Eller being the Canadiens best forward at both ends of the ice. We’re used to his game-in, game out hard work and physical presence but the last two games he’s been an offensive monster. Jiri Sekac has replaced Bourque with great results (he scored the game’s first goal) and Brandon Prust‘s physical presence has opened up time and space for Eller to expand his offense. Eller had seven shots on goal Saturday against Buffalo and six of his nine attempts were on target in this game.
Clutch Hitter – What is it with Dale Weise? Is it me or does he seem to be in the middle of almost every critical Canadiens moment this season. It was Weise who broke away with Pacioretty on the two-on-one that produced the game winner. He hit the post with the Avalanche net empty. It’s obvious his coach has confidence in him. For a player who starts every game on the fourth line including this one, he constantly winds up moving up and down the right wing scale. Against the Avalanche he finished with almost 16 minutes in ice time playing at times on the first, third and fourth lines.
The Defense – They might be aging but the Canadiens defense had a very good night. Subban and Markov were good but I thought the most effective pair in their own end were Alexei Emelin and Sergei Gonchar. Emelin laid off the big hits in favour of protecting the slot and he did it better than anyone else in the game. He left the puck moving to Gonchar, something he has done well for twenty years now.
Hard Work – This game was more wide open than either coach would have liked. Even though seven goals were scored, the goaltenders were both good. Carey Price may have given up three but he made big saves on Landeskog’s one-timer and another on Nick Holden just before Sekac made it 1-0 in the ninth minute. And then, somehow with the goaltender out, he got a pad on O’Reilly’s point blank shot off the Landeskog rebound to seal the deal. Should be said, Carey’s goalposts were a good friend as well, especially when Matt Duchene rang the puck off both goalposts midway through the second period.
Also Worth Mentioning – ….There were 67 faceoffs in the game. Manny Malhotra took 27 of them – winning 15 of them for 56%. In the third period with the game on the line Malhotra won 6 of 9. ….I keep thinking Alex Galchenyuk should be concentrating on shooting the puck and not putting on a stickhandling show. We keep forgetting he’s a natural centre and his terrific pass to Subban for the goal that tied the game was his team leading eleventh assist. …..Subban had a goal and assist. He seems to have opened up his game a bit. The last two games he’s clearly been more involved in the offense. We can only hope it continues, even if it upsets his coach.
No Room At The Top – The Canadiens are 17-7-2 which ties them with Tampa for the league lead at 36 points. Seven teams are within two points and the top nine are separated by just three points. Welcome to the world of cap-induced league parity.
Moving On – The three game losing streak is over. The Canadiens moved on to St. Paul Minnesota right after the game. They’ll play the Wild Wednesday before we get the seventh of sixteen back to back games, Friday and Saturday in Chicago and Dallas.