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Avs-Canadiens Game 72 Studs & Duds

AJ Haefele Avatar
March 27, 2024


The first 43 seconds

The Avs came flying out of the gate and scored on the first shift of the game with Nathan MacKinnon getting his 45th goal of the season. This of course extended his individual point streak to 19 games and and his home-scoring streak to 35. The 19-game streak is one behind Paul Stastny’s Avalanche record and the 35 home-scoring streak is now just five shy of Wayne Gretzky’s NHL record.

All of that was awesome and it looked like it could be a huge night for the Avalanche as they looked to extend their team winning streak to 10 games. That kind of jump and energy has been a little too rare in the early portion of games so to see it tonight did not seem likely to be the end of the Avalanche scoring for the night.

Genuinely, it is annoying to see such a wonderful start immediately thrown into the trash.

The penalty kill

Six minutes of power play time for the Canadiens in the final eight minutes of the third period with a one-goal lead? That should be when they pushed the hardest to extend it to a two-goal lead and bury the Avalanche.

Instead, Colorado’s perfect penalty killing since the trade deadline continued. Montreal had just eight shot attempts total, four of which ended up on goal. They created four scoring chances, but zero high-danger chances.

The first power play was interesting because Montreal controlled the puck in the Avalanche zone for basically the entire two minutes but accomplished nothing with it. They had several shot attempts but nothing of note and the Avs survived with an exhausted PK unit by the end.

Killing the Sean Walker double-minor was a little trickier as the Habs got a few looks in, but ultimately Annunen came up big. This unit is a perfect 19-for-19 since adding Brandon Duhaime and Yakov Trenin upfront. It does help that the Avs have been one of the least-penalized teams in the league in that span, but that’s also a step forward.

It’s much easier to win games when they don’t make life harder for themselves. Taking the penalties tonight was a killer for any potential late-game heroics, but at least the PK gave them a chance.


Everything from 44 seconds on

The Avs held their 1-0 lead for less than 10 seconds as Casey Mittelstadt got embarrassed by Nick Suzuki along the wall and then Annunen’s controller disconnected on the shot. It was brutally bad hockey on all fronts and was a total energy killer.

Colorado actually responded decently and created more chances but couldn’t capitalize on any of them, notably Mikko Rantanen missing the net entirely on a 2-on-1 rush up the ice with Jonathan Drouin. They also hit multiple posts along the way, so it wasn’t as if the Avs never had their chances along the way. It just wasn’t a good enough night of finishing.

It got much worse as the game went along, too, as Colorado got their third power play of the game about halfway through the second period. They had been dominating the period to that point and it felt like this could be the breakthrough to tie the game at 2, but it was among the worst power plays of the season. They couldn’t even get the puck into the Montreal zone with any control, let alone create any scoring chances of any kind.

The failure of that power play was the ultimate energy vampire. The Avs lacked jump and confidence the rest of the way and that’s how you end a winning streak.

Sean Walker

Regardless of any other aspect of his game (his worst as an Av, I think), taking six minutes of penalties in the back half of the third period when your team is trailing by one goal is unacceptable.

I don’t have much else to add. His team didn’t have much going for it anyway but that severely handicapped its ability to push to tie the game and at least get into overtime. An ugly finish for Walker.

Unsung Hero

Justus Annunen

The two goals against Annunen tonight were bad, especially the first. He made essentially zero reaction on the play and looked completely unprepared for facing a shot. I don’t know what he was doing, but it wasn’t goaltending.

The second goal is tough because he should have had it covered but it just got through him and then the Canadiens did a better job of capitalizing on the chance. That stuff happens sometimes.

After that, Annunen showed why the Avalanche were comfortable signing him to the fresh two-year contract he inked earlier in the day that puts him squarely in position to be Colorado’s primary backup goaltender next year and potentially more down the road.

The Canadiens didn’t throw much in terms of quality chances his way the rest of the night but Annunen turned it all away. It is too bad that another solid outing from Annunen was wasted because the team in front of him couldn’t give him any goal support.


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