Artturi Lehkonen

It was Lehkonen’s first time back in Montreal after he was traded to the Avalanche at last year’s trade deadline. It was a pretty emotional night, which was both surprising and a tribute to the raw passion of Habs fans. I loved how much they wanted to shower Lehkonen with love for his contributions to their franchise but also in part to celebrate the championship he won in Colorado.

It was a good reminder that long-time players become “one of us” really easily in some of these communities and Lehkonen got plenty of love from the Montreal faithful.

As far as the game went, Lehkonen was awesome, scoring two goals and adding an assist in under ten minutes of ice time before leaving the game. Both goals are him doing what he does – that warrior stuff that makes him so valuable to this team, standing in front of the net battling and deflecting pucks in.

Colorado’s “get up”

This is going to be a challenging road trip with three teams pushing for the playoffs coming up and yet another schedule disadvantage with their fifth back-to-back against a rested opponent in the last six weeks in the Ottawa game.

It’s their second-to-last lengthy road trip of the season and every point in play is huge for the Avalanche as they jockey for position in the playoff race in the Central Division. Montreal is by far the weakest opponent of this week’s schedule and the Avs could have taken that lightly.

They did not. Were they helped by a subpar performance from Jake Allen? Absolutely. But this game was won by Colorado, not lost by Allen’s play. The Canadiens didn’t have any of the jump in either of the first two periods and the Avs took full advantage in building a 6-2 lead with a thorough dismantling of the home team.

They have to take these games seriously and Colorado certainly did that.

The power play

Three chances with the extra man on the ice, three goals scored. The power play was so good, they were given six minutes of extra time but needed just 1:50 to score all three goals. It wasn’t entirely a fluke, either, as in that 1:50 they racked up five scoring chances, five high-danger chances, and six shots on net.

While the first PPG didn’t come until Colorado’s fourth goal, whatever hopes of a comeback were thwarted with the last two PPGs, which were the seventh and eighth of the game for the Avs. After it had gotten to 7-4, you could squint and see the game getting more competitive but goal number 8 put a tidy stop to the machinations of a miracle.

Colorado’s defensemen

Pick one and you can point to something legitimately good that happened with them out there tonight. Cale Makar had three assists, Devon Toews two, Sam Girard one, Bowen Byram had a highlight-reel goal, Brad Hunt had an assist stolen by a premature whistle, and Jack Johnson did the vet thing wonderfully when he stepped in on Kaiden Guhle when the rookie defenseman got into it with Nathan MacKinnon.

As a unit, I thought they were exceptional when the game was competitive and played a massive role in putting the game out of reach and then keeping it there. These guys played the hell out of some offense tonight. This was Colorado’s true second line hard at work.


Artturi Lehkonen

What an incredibly dumb twist for such a wonderful night for Lehkonen. It was reported after the game by The Athletic’s Peter Baugh that Lehkonen had broken a finger and was returning to Denver for surgery to immediately correct it. He was in clear discomfort on his last shift and it is theorized that the break occurred on one of his two goals, with the second one seeming to be the likelier cause given the nature of the contact on that shot.

We don’t know what Lehkonen’s timeline is for sure but a quick Google search for broken fingers shows a timeline of 4-6 weeks. If that’s what we’re looking at here, that puts Lehkonen on track to return for the start of the playoffs, but only if that recovery time is more like four weeks than six.

We’ll see what the team says, but yet another key injury as the Avs try to patch this thing up just enough to chase down at least home ice in Round 1 of the playoffs. The team just cannot seem to catch the kind of break they’re looking for this season (versus all the bad breaks, especially of things like fingers and ankles).

Unsung Hero

Alexander Georgiev

As the game unfolded, I saw more and more people wondering what was going on with Colorado’s netminder letting in so many goals on such limited shots against. I’ll just say that the first two were incredibly fortunate bounces for the Habs and the fourth goal should never have happened after Guhle had rocked Evan Rodrigues on the other end of the ice and the Avalanche forward remained down during play. That gave Montreal a quick-strike man advantage as Rodrigues was struggling to recover. They scored, and that was neat for them, I guess, but Georgiev’s game log from the last week is going to be wildly misleading in terms of his results versus the way he’s actually played. He’s been one of Colorado’s most reliable players this season.

Valeri Nichushkin

A three-point night that nobody will notice because of all the other wild stat lines produced by the Avalanche skaters tonight. Nichushkin was his pretty normal, dominant self in this game and it seemed like he went out there with a little extra pep in that step tonight.

He was physically dominant and watching him get back to imposing his will on opposing players was an extremely encouraging sign.


A.J. Haefele was born in Aurora, Colorado, raised in Katy, Texas and is the Colorado Avalanche beat reporter for DNVR. AJ helped launch the network back in 2015 and has filled roles as a team leader and Editor-In- Chief, along with co-hosting the DNVR draft podcasts along with his other duties. You can hear him every weekday on the DNVR Avalanche podcast. Follow AJ on Twitter - @returnofaj