Led by Nathan MacKinnon the Colorado Avalanche took advantage of Canadiens defensive mistakes to run up a 3-0 first period lead and then coast to a 6-1 win over the Canadiens Saturday night at the Bell Centre. MacKinnon scored goals 13 seconds apart late in the first period to give the Avalanche their 3-0 lead. The other Colorado goals came from MacKinnon linemates Mikhail Grigorenko and Matt Duchene. Blake Comeau and John Mitchell added the others. Brendan Gallagher scored for the Canadiens. Mike Condon gave up four goals on eleven shots through two periods. Dustin Tokarski played the third period. Reto Berra was named the game’s first star after stopping 30 of 40 shots. Final shots on goal were 40-24 in the Canadiens favour. The other stars were McKinnon and Duchene.
Adding It Up –
Lethal Combination – A sloppy defensive effort combined with a hot Colorado goaltender and a 3-goal first period deficit is a recipe for a beatdown. This was a beatdown despite the lopsided possession statistics. The Avalanche scored three on eight shots in the first period and added another, a shorthanded goal on just three shots in the second. Time to turn out the lights.
Needed Help – Mike Condon wasn’t going to go through the season with a .936 save percentage but he wasn’t as bad as the scoresheet looked. I’m not so sure Carey Price would have fared much better on the three first period goals, especially the two scored by McKinnon. Condon did not look good on the shorthanded goal in the second period and taking him out for the third period was a merciful move by Therrien.
Out of Sorts – The Alfonse-Gaston act between P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov had more than a few of us scratching our heads. They were on the ice for four of Colorado’s first five goals. The main problem seemed to be Subban who wasn’t on the same page as Markov for most of the night. A little too fancy at times I thought. That said, Subban had eight shots on goal in the game.
Chalk It Up – If the Canadiens were to play Colorado five more times in the way they played them on this night they would win five times. You can hold this one up as an argument against the so-called “fancy stats”. Normally they can mirror the result of a game. Not this one. On the Corsi-for numbers which quantifies territorial advantage, the Canadiens took 75 shots in the game to Colorado’s 40. Even strength it was 60-30 which indicates the Canadiens had possession of the puck almost 2/3rds of the game. Hard to condemn them for having a bad night. Unlucky perhaps. But the effort was there for the most part.
The Enigma – Alexander Semin was back in the lineup after missing seven games as a healthy scratch. I didn’t see much that made me think he was ready to take back a spot on the third line with Galchenyuk and Eller. Then again, I didn’t see a lot that made me hate what he did in this game. He was there but without any impact one way or the other. He didn’t have a shot on goal but Semin, Galchenyuk and Eller were the only forwards in the game without a minus next to their name.
Well Oiled Machine – Twist my arm and you’ll get me to admit that the Plekanec line had a really good night. Gallagher scored the only goal, his 8th of the season. The line took 20 shots, 14 of them on goal and it produced eight scoring chances. Pacioretty and Gallagher had six shots each and Plekanec with 2. On most nights they would fill the net with stats like that.
Also Worth Mentioning –
….Besides the Galchenyuk line, the only other players not in the minus column was the third defense pairing of Greg Pateryn and Tom Gilbert. For someone who hasn’t played against NHL opposition since training camp, Pateryn had a very steady night.
….Really hard to get down on the team. It was the Canadiens first home ice loss in regulation time this season. Their home record now 7-1-1.
….The power play was 0-for-4. First time in eight games they failed to score with the man advantage.
….One of those rare occasions where neither Subban nor Markov led the night in ice time. The pairing of Jeff Petry and Nathan Beaulieu were one and two – both of them over 23 minutes. Subban had 22 minutes and Markov 19:08.
….Also from the scoresheet – Jeff Petry led the Canadiens in ice time with 24:00. Beaulieu second at 23:13. Subban took 11 shots; 8 of them on goal. Petry, Pacioretty and Gallagher had six apiece. Pateryn and Beaulieu led with 4 hits each. Plekanec was 63% in the faceoff circle winning ten of sixteen.
Moving On – The Canadiens take on the Vancouver Canucks Monday night at the Bell Centre. The Canucks lost to the Leafs in Toronto Saturday night. The it’s Arizona in Montreal Thursday followed by a home and home vs. the Islanders – at Brooklyn Friday and Sunday at the Bell Centre.