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Takeaways from Avs' 2-1 victory over Montreal Canadiens

Adrian Dater Avatar
December 20, 2018

This one goes in the “It was nothing fancy, but we’ll take it” file.

The Avs needed a win like this tonight probably. They made a lot of the same mistakes they’ve been making  lately, including a too-many-men penalty for the fourth straight game, another power-play goal against, too much overpassing by the big guys in scoring situations, too many icing violations, not enough time with the puck.

But the Avs won the damn game, 2-1 over Montreal, a win that puts them at 44 points entering Friday’s home game against Chicago. The Avs will have a weird back-to-back schedule against the Blackhawks (Friday) and at Arizona (Saturday) before getting five days off, then playing on the 27th at Vegas.

I viewed these two points tonight as crucial, as well as the two Friday against a sliding Chicago club. You really have to get the points when they’re there waiting for you, and tonight the Avs got two – though it was probably a lot harder than it should have been.


  • No question about it, Philipp Grubauer was the No. 1 star of the game, besting Carey Price. Grubi gave up the one power-play goal in the first, to Brendan Gallagher, then shut things down totally from there. He didn’t get a lot of help out there either. If it seemed like play was in the Colorado end most of the night, that’s because it was.
  • I think Grubauer won the No. 1 job tonight. I say this without having any confirmation of that. But I have a feeling that Grubi will be the top guy moving forward. That comes with something of a caveat of course; neither he nor Semyon Varlamov have been all that great of late. But I think Grubi’s performance tonight was such that Jared Bednar will reward it with more playing time. Varly just has not looked good for quite a while now.
  • Some Avs forwards were just god-awful in puck-possession numbers tonight. Don’t believe me? Here, try this on for size: Sven Andrighetto, 9:10 of ice time, zero Corsi events for, 14 against. Tyson Jost, zero Corsi for, 13 against. J.T. Compher – 2 for, 15 against. The second line, ergo, was terrible tonight. I say, move Alexander Kerfoot back up to the second line, drop Andrighetto down and move on from there.
  • Jared Bednar, after Monday’s game with the Islanders, said “we need to block more shots.” Wish granted. The Avs blocked 26 shots tonight, to Montreal’s seven.
  • The Three-Headed Monster won the game offensively for the Avs. Goals by Rantanen and Landeskog got it done. Nathan MacKinnon with two assists. The bottom nine forwards, though, need to find a way to be more relevant offensively, especially that second line that was so bad tonight.
  • Carey Price is still looking for that 300th win.
  • Gabriel Bourque – another offensive zone penalty. Avs fans really are tired of seeing him play right now. I will say this though: He made a nice pass to Alexander Kerfoot that could have resulted in a goal, if not for Kerfie muffing the shot some.
  • I thought Matt Nieto had a strong game. Good puck possession numbers and came close to scoring a goal. That’s all you can ask of third-liners.
  • I loved the way Grubauer just challenged the shooters overall. If I have to contrast that with anyone of late, it would be Varly. Varly has been really sinking deep in his crease of late, a sign that a goalie doesn’t have as much confidence as usual. Tonight, I saw Grubi challenging the shooter.


  • The Avalanche is now 11-5-2 against the Eastern Conference this season, including a 5-2-1 record on home ice.
    Colorado has won its last four home contests against Montreal and is 12-2-1 at home against the Canadiens since relocating to Denver in 1995-96.
    Colorado’s top line of Gabriel Landeskog (42 points), Nathan MacKinnon (55), and Mikko Rantanen (58) have combined for 155 points (60g, 95a) in 2018-19, which is 25 points more than the league’s next-closest
    trio: Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point (53g, 77a —130 pts).
    Philipp Grubauer is 8-0-3 through his last 11 starts, the longest stretch of his career without a regulation loss in a game he has started. Gabriel Landeskog scored his 23rd goal of the season and is now tied for third in the league in goals. His tally was also the game-winning goal, Landeskog’s league-leading seventh game-winner of the campaign. Of his 23 markers, 15 have come in the third period, an NHL high. Landeskog has scored eight goals in the month of December, tied for fourth for the month. After finishing with a +2 plus/minus rating tonight, Landeskog is tied for the league lead at +21.
  • Mikko Rantanen skated in his 200th NHL game and registered a goal, his 16th of the season, and an assist (42). Rantanen’s 58 points continue to pace the NHL and has been the league’s outright leader in points for 53-of-59 days since Oct. 23.

Nathan MacKinnon extended his point streak to seven games. He has recorded 12 points (2g, 10a) in that stretch and ranks second in the league with 55 points.
MacKinnon and Rantanen each have 18 multiple-point games this season, the most in the NHL,

Colorado RW Mikko Rantanen
On His Goal: “Well, we wanted to get a forecheck and Nate (Colorado C Nathan MacKinnon) did a
good job reading the play and (Montreal G Carey) Price turned it over that time. I just tried to yell for
Nate and he made a quick pass and Price couldn’t recover, so it was a good play for Nate.”
On Tonight’s Game: “I think we answered back pretty well. We started good, but then the second period, like the start of the second was a little bit sloppy so that’s one thing we need to be better at. But
the third period, the way we played, we didn’t give them anything I think and Grubi (Colorado G Philipp
Grubauer) played really good in the net, so it was a good team effort.”
Colorado LW Gabriel Landeskog
On His Goal Scoring This Season: “That’s just a product of playing with two good players and playing
on a good team, so that’s really all it is. I mean, you never have a goal to score a certain amount of
goals before whatever, you’re not looking at breaking any franchise’s records or whatever, it’s just a
product of some good chemistry.”
On Colorado C Nathan MacKinnon’s Performance: “I think it’s no secret at this point on what he can
do. You know, if he’s not scoring goals, then he’s setting up goals and making plays. I mean with his
speed and his skill and his determination, I think he’s making things happen every shift and I think
that’s just kind of what he expects out of himself and that’s what we all expect out of ourselves. And
tonight, we got rewarded for it.”
Colorado G Philipp Grubauer
On His Performance: “Yeah, it was good. I saw the puck, felt really good and try to get that to the next
On The Avs’ Defensive Effort: “Well obviously, we want to cut the goals-against down. It’s been way
too much and we can’t always ask the guys to always score five or six goals to win the game, so we
got to tighten up back there and it starts with us goalies back there. If there’s a breakdown, we are
there to make up for it. I try to stop the puck and you have to take it from situation to situation.”
Montreal RW Brendan Gallagher
On Tonight’s Game: “We’ve got to find ways to win games. We’re in a 1-1 game on the road in the third
period. You can’t give up a goal, that’s just what hockey’s all about. There’s those important shifts. We
get behind, it was a pretty even game all around, they just found a way to out-work us for one more
goal and that was the difference in the game.”
On Competing Against Good Teams: “We should be able to compete against everyone. We have a
good hockey club in here, like I said, they found a way to out-work us for one more goal and that’s the  difference I think. That’s part of what this is all about here, is learning how to win tight games, we’ve
done it a little bit this year. You can always continue to learn, always continue to get better at it, this
was an example where we failed. Hopefully the next time we find a way to win the third period. We
wanted to win on the road, these points are critical.”

Montreal LW Jonathan Drouin
On Tonight’s Game: “We played a good goalie on the other side, I thought our game was pretty good.
We’re skating, we’re getting pucks to the net and obviously that top line took over a couple shifts and
that’s what they did all year and kind of what they did to us tonight.”

On The Power-Play Goal: “It’s been a while. A lot of talking, a lot of X’s and O’s stuff and to get that in
the first period is nice and definitely nice for everyone to get the power play going. We need it in those
stretches on the road.”

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