It couldn’t last forever.
The red-hot Avalanche finally met their match, as the rested Montreal Canadiens took it to Colorado from start to finish on their way to a 4-2 victory, ending the Avs’ 10-game winning streak. The score was somewhat flattering for the Avs, who looked exhausted on the second half of a road back-to-back but managed to score two goals when the game was well out of reach.
The tone was set early. While Montreal was not able to score in the opening period, they did come out and physically dominate the Avalanche, throwing 20 hits in the first 20 minutes of the game. They also managed to completely neutralize the Avs offense, as Colorado was held to only six shot attempts in the first period.
The second period was more of the same. Montreal came out fast, and 5:42 into the period some sloppy play by the Avs at their own blueline allowed Jonathan Drouin to walk into the slot. While his shot was blocked, Nicolas Deslauriers picked up the rebound and put Montreal up by one. Just a minute later, Mark Barberio took a penalty and the Canadiens soon extended their lead to 2-0.
The Avalanche had their chances. They had two power plays after the Canadiens took a two-goal lead, but produced nothing. Coach Jared Bednar, obviously frustrated with his team’s effort, elected to start his second unit over the Nathan MacKinnon line, trying to send a message to his top players, but it didn’t work.
Goaltender Jonathan Bernier was strong again, coming up with 36 saves, but he didn’t get a lot of help. The Canadiens’ third goal was evidence, as Erik Johnson let Drouin get behind him for an easy tap-in goal.
MacKinnon and J.T. Compher would score late goals sandwiched around a Brendan Gallagher empty netter, but it was too little, too late. The Avalanche will not tie their franchise record 12-game winning streak, and now are set up for a very important game Thursday in St. Louis against the Blues. The Avalanche are only four points behind the Blues with games in-hand, so this is their chance to make a move on the team that currently holds the third playoff spot in the Central Division.
- The defensive pairing of Mark Barberio and Patrik Nemeth struggled all night long. They were consistently pinned in their own end, to the point where they were separated for good in the second period. In nearly 6:00 of ice time together at even strength, they were on the ice for zero shot attempts towards the Montreal net.
- The Avalanche, in general, had no jump. Through two periods, they managed to only direct 15 shot attempts towards Carey Price at even strength, and only eight of them actually got to the net.
- Tyson Jost showed some energy again tonight and is starting to string together some consistently good play. He had two of the Avs’ five shots in the first period, and was battling all night long.
- The game Thursday against St. Louis is the Avs’ final game before the All-Star break. Everyone except for Nathan MacKinnon will get some time off before the Avs play again next Tuesday against the Vancouver Canucks.