Montreal and Colorado are both red hot at the right time of the year and they are confronting each other tonight at the Bell Centre. The Habs are coming off a spirited win over the Maple Leafs and the Avalanche have recovered nicely following the infamous Todd Bertuzzi cheap shot on Steve Moore. Another huge test is surely awaiting the Canadiens, as Colorado represents one of the top teams in the league.
Montreal 1-0: The Habs got off to a pretty good start and on their second PP opportunity, they capitalized. A nice entry into the Avalanche zone was executed by Michael Ryder and Mike Ribeiro. Ribeiro gave the puck to Ryder who walked in on Aebischer. Ryder was covered fairly well and he was somewhat off-balance, but that didn’t prevent him from surprising Aebischer for his 22nd goal of the season.
Montreal 2-0: Saku Koivu came out of the corner with the puck and found Perreault who was sitting a fair ways out from the net ready to execute his shot and Perreault wired it past Aebischer on the one timer. It’s nice to see Perreault contributing after his horrid slump in the middle months of the season. If this continues, he could be a nice asset for the Habs in the postseason as he seems to always come up with a big goal, not to mention that he is the NHL’s number 1 faceoff man.
Colorado 2-1: Now it was time for one of the NHL’s top units to go on the PP. Rookie John-Michael Liles got the puck to Rob Blake who wired it past Jose Theodore. Theodore didn’t have a ton of traffic in front of him, and this might be an occasion where he would like another shot at the save. Liles, an Indiana native, now has 9 points in the month of March and he is really flourishing with Colorado in his first NHL season.
1) MON Michael Ryder 22 (power play) (Mike Ribeiro, Francis Bouillon) 12:25 1st
2) MON Yanic Perreault 14 (Saku Koivu) 14:07 1st
3) COL Rob Blake 12 (power play) (John-Michael Liles, Steve Konowalchuk) 15:49 1st
Shots: Colorado 17 Montreal 13
Colorado 2-2: Giveaways are often costly, but especially against a high powered team like the Avalanche. Quintal tried to do too much as he circled his own net and brought the puck up ice. It was taken by Barnaby who fed it across the ice to Konowalchuk who found Chris Gratton waiting at the side of the net for the easy tally.
4) COL Chris Gratton 11 (Steve Konowalchuk, Matthew Barnaby) 8:17 2nd
Shots: Colorado 5 Montreal 8
Total Shots: Colorado 22 Montreal 21
Montreal 3-2: The Habs take the lead and it all starts with Steve Begin. Begin gets Gratton to take a penalty and Begin does not retaliate, giving his team a PP. Perreault gave it to Kovalev at the point who fired it on net. The rebound went to a waiting Saku Koivu who made no mistake and put the Canadiens up 3-2. Alex Kovalev gets his first point in a Habs uniform after numerous other chances.
Montreal 4-2: Ribeiro and the Habs clinch the victory over the Avalanche with the empty netter. After some brief pressure from Colorado, the Canadiens manage to get it out of the zone courtesy of Kovalev and Ryder and Ribeiro hits the open net for his 20th of the season. It was a good win against one of the top teams in the league and the Canadiens continue their recent string of success.
5) MON Saku Koivu 14 (power play) (Alexei Kovalev, Yanic Perreault) 4:18 3rd
6) MON Mike Ribeiro 20 (empty net) (Michael Ryder, Alexei Kovalev) 19:11 3rd
Final Shots: Colorado 31 Montreal 29
Powerplays: Montreal 2/5 Colorado 1/4