In a game that saw some bad bounces for both teams, the Colorado Avalanche came out with a 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens Thursday night, to crash their home-opener.
Instead of a more traditional introduction by Bell Centre announcer Michel LaCroix, the Canadiens players introduced themselves, in French, to the applause of the crowd. Injured Andrei Markov received the warmest reception.
Montreal played a strong first period, outshooting Colorado 11-6, and scored first,on the power play,when Roman Hamrlik moved in off the point and fired a Tomas Plekanec pass into the low corner past Craig Anderson.
The second period was not as effective for Montreal and goaltender Carey Price.
Playing four-on four, Milan Hejduk took a shot that bounced off of two Canadiens players and slipped through the five-hole on Price.
As the period wound down the Avalanche caught the Canadiens off guard. Kyle Cumiskey made a centering pass off the left boards that managed to hit the skate of Canadiens defender Shawn Belle and bounce up and over Price’s shoulder.
The Canadiens tied it up, in the third, when Andrei Kostitsyn fed a one-timer to Plekanec.
Anderson and the Avalanche protested, to no avail ,that an earlier pass behind the net went into the protective netting above the glass and should have been whistled down. The TV replays showed the Avalanche were right, but the goal counted.
Minutes later, a questionable missed penalty call, on a hit to Scott Gomez, and ensuing weak defensive coverage by the Canadiens enabled Ryan O’Reilly to find his own rebound and score his first career NHL goal.
Despite pulling their goaltender, and some good opportunities in the dying seconds by Montreal, Anderson shut the door to preserve the Avalanche win.
The Canadiens have now lost their last four straight games, since winning their first two of the season.
Anderson’s 29-save performance moved the Avalanche to a 5-1-1 record to start the season.
If anything positive came out of the loss, it was the play of Canadiens’ winger Andrei Kostitsyn.
After being benched for the third period of Saturday’s loss to Edmonton and messing up the “Je suis” in his intro on Thursday, Kostitsyn played a solid game with two assists two hits, two shots and three missed shots.
In light of his misleading minus two showing, Shaun Belle also played a solid defensive game, his first as a Montreal Canadien.
The Canadiens next game is Saturday against the Ottawa Senators. It will mark the return of former Canadiens All-Star Alex Kovalev to the Bell Centre.
The Senators are coming off a 7-1 pasting of the Tampa Bay Lightning and would like noting more than to make their new teammate’s first visit to his former club a memorable one.