The Montreal Canadiens extended their winning streak to three games with a victory over one of the Western Conference’s top teams, who just so happen to be coached by a Canadiens legend.
Patrick Roy made his return to Montreal as an NHL Head Coach, a day after St. Patrick’s Day, but failed to get a win against the team he won 289 games for in his 11 seasons with the Habs.
Thomas Vanek would tie things up in the second period when he scored his first goal in a Canadiens sweater. David Desharnais carried the puck deep into the Avalanche zone, and looked to be going around the net, but instead slid it through the crease to Vanek for a tap in.
The most unlikely of forward duos would combine to bring the Habs even at two, as Brandon Prust made an excellent diving pass to an open Travis Moen in the offensive zone. Moen gathered the puck and did a spin-o-rama that would make Denis Savard drool, and while on his backhand, fired the puck past Jean Sebastien Giguere and into the Avs goal.
The game would remain tied at 2 entering the second intermission, as both goaltenders were solid, with the Habs holding a 24-21 shot advantage after 40 minutes.
The fourth line of the Habs struck again early in the third as the trio of Prust, Moen and Dale Weise hemmed the top defense pairing of Erik Johnson and Jan Hejda in their own end for the entire shift.
After winning a few puck battles and cycling the puck around the Avalanche zone, the puck made its way back to Andrei Markov at the blue line. He stepped into the zone and made a beautiful cross ice pass to Prust, who hammered home his eighth goal of the season to give the Habs their first lead of the night.
Jamie McGinn tried to spoil the Bell Centre party, as he grabbed his own rebound with just under ten minutes to play in the final frame, and rifled a backhander passed a surprised Price.
The Canadiens dismal power play of late, finally came alive in the lastsix minutes of the game and it would make the difference on this night.
Giguere was called for holding the stick of Weise, and some nifty puck movement by Desharnais and Max Pacioretty left Vanek wide open in the slot to collect his second goal of the night. Just under three minutes later, with Hejda in the box for tripping Brendan Gallagher, Vanek redirected an Alexei Emelin point shot into the net, and finished off the Avs with his first hat trick of the season.
Weise would add an empty netter with one minute remaining to make the final score 6-3 in favour of the home squad. He was the third member of the fourth line to score a goal on the night, a sign of great depth among the Canadiens forwards.
The Habs are back in action tomorrow night when they take on the Columbus Blue Jackets.