Rantanen records first career hat trick, as Avs get revenge over Habs

Momentum has not been kind to the Colorado Avalanche from game to game this season, but after picking up its first win in nearly a month on Saturday, the Avs rolled out two quick goals on Tuesday to give them the edge and eventual victory over the Montreal Canadiens, 4-0.

“We just couldn’t put it all together and we’ve been able to do that the last two nights,” head coach Jared Bednar said. “It’s funny what a little confidence can do. The other night, it carried over to tonight which is good for us.”

From start to finish, the Avalanche, led by forward Mikko Rantanen‘s first career hat trick, were phenomenal on offense. Rantanen shifted gears for Colorado’s luck right off the bat when he scored his first of three just 30 seconds into play, and forward Andreas Martinsen quickly followed suit just two minutes later.

“Obviously it’s a dream come true. You watch the other guys when you were younger score hat tricks and the crowd goes wild,” Rantanen said of his best pro performance. “But the most important thing still was to get the team points.”

Keep in mind, this was the team that beat the Avalanche 10-1 in Montreal earlier in the season.

“I think we earned a little payback from what happened in Montreal,” Rantanen said. “Nobody was happy. It was embarrassing. We were really sharp tonight and we played a solid 60 minutes.”

Defenseman Mark Barberio, who the Avalanche picked up from Montreal less than a week before the game, said he was thrilled for his new teammates after the beat down they received the last time they faced off with the Canadiens.

“It was more satisfying to get the win, especially with the last result that happened when this group played in Montreal at the Bell Centre,” Mark Barberio said. “I thought it showed good character in this rematch.”

So far, he’s happy with his role in the team and looks forward to what he can do with his new teammates.

“It’s great. They told me they would give me an opportunity, and I just want to seize that chance and make the most of it,” Barberio said. “There’s a lot of good players in this room and on the powerplay there’s a lot of good players around me.”

Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Barberio added salt to Montreal’s early open wound as they contributed two assists each to the Avs’ point total.

“My thoughts on that game are very similar to last game. We’ve seen so many games where we haven’t put everything together,” Bednar said. “I just think these last couple games, we’ve been a four-line team. We’ve gotten contributions from the other lines and offensive plays, scoring chances, lulls.”

And, for the first time in a while, the Avs defended well from start to finish for the second straight game.

“We just haven’t given up many chances,” goalie Calvin Pickard said. “There were games like that at the start of the year, games here and there that we played fantastic defense, and it’s pretty easy for me to play back there when they’re playing like that.”

With the win, the Avalanche improved to 15-33-2 on the season. They return home on Thursday, with the hopes of carrying their momentum towards a third straight win against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Worth noting:

Forward Matt Nieto exited the game late after taking a puck to the leg, and Bednar said his status for the next few games are now called into question.

“He went for an X-ray, got hit in the leg,” Bednar said. “I haven’t heard, so I’m sure they’re going to have to look at it and see, but he took a good shot in the leg so I hope he’s OK.”

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