The Montreal Canadiens could not beat Colorado Avalanche last night.
They suffered their fourth straight loss in the last five games when the Avs pulled a second goal past the Canadiens to claim victory in OverTime.
It looked a lot like their last match-up against the Avs back in January, where the Avs skated away with a 3 – 2 win in OverTime. But it wasn’t all that bad…
The positives of Wednesday night? The Canadiens’ recent call up, Anthony Richard, showed us what he can bring to the game, making his scoring debut. The Habs looked like they were playing, pulling some of the Av’s own tricks from their playbook.
Arguably, had both teams not had a series of injuries on their roster, the game might have been either more devastating for the Canadiens or given them the advantage to secure a win from the Avs.
The opening First Period would demonstrate a level of dominance by the Habs, unseen in a long while this season.
The team made themselves known in the neutral zone, made the line changes, forechecked aggressively and made opportunities for themselves. In other words, they were playing much better than we’ve seen them.
The first true testing of the waters came in the first two minutes of the game. An impressive counterattack would separate the Av’s defence and let the Habs know why Anthony Richard was a valuable pick for Center.
Colorado were the first to press the attack on Montreal’s goal but Evans and Armia were on hand to halt their advances. Armia scooped up the stray puck and passed it centre to a waiting Richard.
Richard saw the exposed middle and sprinted to the Av’s goal. He was 3 or 4 skate strides ahead of the likes of Toews, who could barely get close to him.
He teased Georgiyev before putting it away to take Habs ahead in the first two minutes of the game.
The breakaway and counterattack was impressive yes, but doubly so because it was the first time in seven games that the Habs had been able to score so soon in a game.
‘I talk a lot about playing defence as soon as you lose the puck,’ Habs Manager Martin St Louis would say following the game. He was impressed by his team’s efforts.
The Canadiens were able to hold Avalanche at bay in the Second, sucking the space and the air out of the game, to prevent them from peppering their basket with pucks.
Habs made 36 shots on the Avs’ goal last night while Allen managed to save his goal-line all of 34 times. Props to Allen for not letting the side down too.
The level of endurance to take possession, lose possession and defend against Colorado started to wane as the equaliser found the back of the net just after the two-minute mark of the Third.
The Face-Off in the Habs’ half between Evans and Compher, was won by the latter and swung out to Makar. He passed on to Rantanen who fed the puck into the center, just waiting for a smack towards Allen.
The Finn, Lehkonen was in position to scoop up the puck and he launched a Power-Play, breaking Allen’s game save record and making it 1 – 1.
We needed a winner and for just an instant the Habs thought it would be them. Drouin had possession of the puck and he raced down the right side of the rink, beating the defence and taking aim.
He got up close with Georgiyev and tapped but the goalie’s legs would catch it before it crossed the line. Drouin would crash to the ice, dumbfounded.
The Avs’ goalie got it back to the defence and the counterattack was in full swing with Toews and Rantanen racing back towards the Habs half.
The Habs’ defence were struggling to get back in time and the two Avs took their time to measure up the shot. Toews passed over to Rantanen and the Finn knocked it under Allen to score the deciding goal of the game.
While disappointed with the result, the Habs manager was impressed with the progress his team had displayed against the Avs.
He said that they had shown how they were stepping up and adopting the skills which have made Colorado such a formidable force.
‘You’ve gotta look at what we’re trying to build here and it’s a similar style — fast, up-tempo, with pace, a possession game that starts with them playing on top of you and not giving you any time and space, with their defence active in all of it. We’re trying to create a lot of what they have in their game,’ he said.
The Montreal Canadiens are off to Dallas to play the Dallas Stars on Friday evening while Colorado Avalanche face the Nashville Predators on the same evening.