After a moment of silence and the French National anthem in remembrance of the tragedy in Paris yesterday, the game started with a pretty decent pace. Both goalies were tested early, but Reto Berra had to make an outstanding series of saves around three minutes in. This is a trend that would continue throughout the game as Montreal threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Colorado netminder.
Mikhail Grigorenko responded with both the first of the game and the first of his Avalanche career a few minutes later off a nice feed from Duchene. Montreal then tipped the ice in their favor and began racking up the shots. They even drew a penalty after John Mitchell boarded Max Pacioretty, but the Avs effectively killed it off.
However, a miscommunication between Montreal's defensemen resulted in a Jack Skille breakaway, and the ensuing offensive zone faceoff brought about Nathan MacKinnon's first goal of the night. He then added another 13 seconds later. As a result, the Avs exited the first period up 3-0.
The second was a penalty-filled affair with the Avs committing three and Montreal committing one. Brendan Gallager was able to put home one of his rebounds midway through the period during a rare even strength patch, but during one of the Habs's man advantages, Blake Comeau gained control of the puck, skated down the ice, and fired a shot at net. It went in, and the shorty marked the Avs fourth of the night, as well as Comeau's 200th point during his 500th game.
The third period saw fewer penalties—only one against Montreal was called—but that proved to be enough. Matt Duchene added his fourth goal of the road trip from a top shelf shot during the man advantage. Mitchell also decided to get in on the party, bringing the score to its final 6-1 tally. Andreas Martinsen's assist on the goal also marked his first NHL point.
Reto Berra, 40 saves
Nathan MacKinnon, 2 G, 1 A, PK time and lots of great reads
Matt Duchene, 1 G, 2 A, PK time and overall strong play
Honorable mention to Grigorenko who didn't look out of place on the top line, as well as Mitchell and Comeau who also scored goals.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Although it won't show up on many highlight reels from the game, Jack Skille's steal during a miscommunication between Canadiens defensemen was the domino that lead to MacKinnon's goals. His great read and shot resulted in the offensive zone faceoff that swung momentum in the Avs favor after a very strong stretch from Montreal.
The Avs were outshot every period except for the third, where they posted a 13-8 SOG differential. That was far different than in the second period, where they only managed 3 to Montreal's 14 shots on net.
QUOTE OF THE GAME
(Grigorenko) played really well in Boston with (Duchene and MacKinnon). I just thought it was good timing for him (to play a game on that top line). When (Grigorenko) protects his puck, he competes in his battles, and he's tougher to get away from the puck, it makes a big difference in his play. He has such a great IQ, and he's a good shooter. He's more dangerous around the net. . . I really thought it was a good fit for (Duchene and MacKinnon). And he's good on give and goes, and (MacKinnon) needs a player like this, that will give him the puck back. And I think (MacKinnon) is a good fit for him. - Patrick Roy
Heading into tonight, the Avs were last in the Central Division with 13 points. With tonight's win, they're still last, but their first win streak of the season extends to three. At the time of this writing, Chicago's game against St. Louis has not concluded, so the Avalanche will be either two or four points from sixth in the Central by the end of the night.
As an added bonus, Captain Gabe Landeskog only has one game remaining in his suspension.
More than anything, this win proves to the Avs players that they can beat even good teams this year. While Montreal's goalie didn't have a great game, it's still a much needed confidence boost for a club that didn't start the season as they would have liked.
The Avs have a couple days off before flying to the center of the universe (at least according to the Toronto hockey media) to face off against Mike Babcock and the Maple Leafs at 5:00pm MST. Altitude will carry the game.