Canadian 2 – Avalanche 1 | A victory full of meaning

(Denver) The Canadian has not won many matches this season, reviewing his victories is not complicated.

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Close wins, sometimes lucky. Rare clear triumphs. Points snatched, often in overtime. A little bit of everything, ultimately. But nowhere, since the beginning of October, will we find a victory as important as that of Tuesday in Colorado, acquired by a score of 2-1.

Some notes, in order or out of order:

– It was the first match that Martin St-Louis managed after spending 10 days at the top of his son;

– The Colorado Avalanche had just won nine straight, scoring an average of more than four goals per game;

– For 59 minutes, the Habs kept Nathan MacKinnon’s trio silent;

– It was, at 71e match of the season, the first 2-1 victory for CH, which has nevertheless played its fair share of close duels;

– The Canadian returns to Montreal with a 2-2-1 record after a trip that could have turned into a nightmare.

You could argue that the Avalanche didn’t look like the blistering offensive machine they were in recent weeks. Or that the young goalkeeper Justus Annunen did not look like a child prodigy on the two goals he allowed in the first period. However, let’s save temperance for another time.

In the morning, Martin St-Louis had stated several times how “proud” he was of his team, which held the fort during his absence. At the end of the evening, he added more.

This evening, on the bench, I was even more proud. The guys are so committed, they stay on task… We continue to move forward as a team.

Martin St-Louis

He loved seeing his men respond immediately to the goal given in the first seconds of the match. This “incredible” response helped his club “direct the match a little bit”. After a completely open first period, CH managed to close the game and protect its slim lead for 40 minutes.

“I liked our maturity and our attitude,” St-Louis said again.

Was it, according to him, the biggest victory for his men this season? ” I think so. With the circumstances too, and everything… I’m really proud,” he repeated.

We have no choice but to believe it.

” For him “

In the locker room, the frenzy was palpable. The players unanimously dedicated this victory to their coach.

“We missed him,” admitted Nick Suzuki. We played for him. »

“Everyone loves him,” added Samuel Montembeault, visibly happy to have ended a streak which saw him suffer six consecutive defeats.

“We wanted to win for him, work for him,” added the goalkeeper.

“He is a leader for us, the victory is for him,” confirmed Rafaël Harvey-Pinard.

Beyond the obvious emotional charge of this victory, we broadly underlined the fact that it had been won against one of the best teams in the NHL. Montembeault also noted that CH had swept its short two-game series against this team this season.

And in this encounter, Montrealers not only survived. Even though the locals won the puck possession battle, the visitors managed to keep their opponents on the outskirts and limit their scoring chances to five on five, particularly in the second and third periods.

The CH was also perfect on the penalty kill. In six minutes with an extra man, the Avalanche only put two shots on target. The successes continue for this special unit, which has now successfully cleared 40 of its last 44 penalties, thus presenting an efficiency rate of 90.9% over the last 13 meetings.

“The guys were committed,” analyzed Samuel Montembeault. From the second period onwards, they stood up defensively. They played good hockey, using their sticks well and blocking shots. They also did an excellent job in their confrontations at the blue line: the puck was coming out all the time. »

“Everywhere on the ice, we thought about defense first,” added Rafaël Harvey-Pinard. Even in the offensive zone, we had our feet turned towards our zone so as not to create a surplus. »

“This is an important victory for us,” he reiterated.

He couldn’t say it so well. Established at the start of the season, the objective of playing “meaningful” matches in February and even March quickly proved unattainable, given the team’s position in the standings. It was therefore necessary to give meaning to these contested matches while the dream of the playoffs no longer exists.

On Tuesday, the Canadian won a match that had no importance for his record. But he signed a victory whose symbolic value is immense. This is a major accomplishment. And that certainly says a lot about this group’s desire to progress next season.

In details

MacKinnon chasing Stastny


Nathan Mackinnon

Records from the 80s are hard to break in the NHL. So it’s no surprise that there’s so much excitement when a current player approaches a record set in an era when praising Michael Jackson was uncontroversial. It’s a hot topic in Colorado these days, as Nathan MacKinnon has two records in his sights. Against the Canadian on Tuesday, he obtained a point in a 35e back-to-back home game, and he could still beat Wayne Gretzky’s 40 in 1988-89. Without taking anything away from this prospect, however, it is the threat of a franchise record that strikes a chord among fans here: Peter Stastny’s 139 points in a season in 1981-1982. MacKinnon still has 10 games to reach the top of the list and, if he maintains the pace of his first 72 games, he could get there.

Beautiful tribute to Newhook


Alex Newhook

The Avalanche paid tribute to Alex Newhook in the first period. During a commercial break, a video was shown recounting his good times during the nearly three seasons he played in Denver, including highlights on the ice, discussions with fans and his day with the Stanley Cup on Earth -Neuve, his native province. Newhook played 159 season games, and 27 more in the playoffs, in an Avalanche uniform before being traded to the Canadiens last summer. In the morning, head coach Jared Bednar was complimentary of him, admitting to having always had a “soft spot” for the attacker. “I will always respect the players who have already helped us win, even if they play elsewhere,” he added.

Fourth line in neutral

It’s a bit anecdotal at the end of the season, but the trend is still clear: the Canadian’s fourth trio frankly doesn’t offer anything transcendent. Indeed, Michael Pezzetta, Colin White and Rafaël Harvey-Pinard, during the last four matches, have not built any complicity whatsoever. In 5:25 minutes spent on the ice at five-on-five on Tuesday, their combination didn’t even get a shot attempt. There are obviously mitigating circumstances – for example the fact that White is the only center available, or that the Avalanche sent their first line in their path as soon as they could. However, we hope these support employees find a spark by the end of the campaign.

Simon-Olivier Lorange, The Press


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