Vanek scored a hat trick — his first three goals since joining
the team at the trade deadline — to lead the Canadiens to a 6-3 win
over the Avalanche on Tuesday night at the Bell Centre.
The win allowed Montreal (38-25-7) to maintain its hold on second
place in the Atlantic Division and add an eight-point cushion on the
ninth-place Detroit Red Wings.
After a slow start, Vanek showed signs of breaking out after
numerous chances in recent games, but none ended up in the net.
"The last little bit here it's been frustrating. Not just for
myself, but I felt we were so close to putting together a good shift
and scoring and getting momentum," Vanek said of his line that
includes center David Desharnais and left winger Max Pacioretty.
Center Brandon Prust, left winger Travis Moen and right winger Dale
Weise also scored for the Canadiens, who won their third straight.
Centers Nathan MacKinnon and Maxime Talbot and left winger Jamie
McGinn scored for the Avalanche (44-20-5).
MacKinnon broke the scoreless tie at 18:03 of the first period when
left winger Gabriel Landeskog, in a battle along the backboards,
found the rookie in the slot for his 23rd goal of the season.
"They did a good job of tracking us. They were hard on the forecheck
tonight and I thought we had some good shifts as well down low,"
said MacKinnon, the first overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft. "It
was a pretty back-and-forth game and definitely could have gone on
the other side as well."
Vanek picked up his first of the night at 7:44 of the second period.
Desharnais broke in on the left side and drew Giguere out of
position as he appeared headed for a wraparound attempt. He instead
dished in front to Vanek, who tapped the puck into an open net.
The Avalanche regained the lead nearly two minutes later after
center Matt Duchene delivered a perfect feed to Talbot in the slot.
Moen evened the score less than a minute later with his first goal
since Nov. 22 in Washington. Prust dived to chip the puck over to
Moen, who did a spin-o-rama to rid himself of the Avalanche defender
and tossed in a backhander for his second goal of the season.
Prust gave the Canadiens their first lead of the night at 3:33 of
the third period when he rifled a one-timer from the high slot.
McGinn tied the score at 9:54 when he picked up his own rebound and
lifted it over Price.
"We played a full 60 minutes. We didn't have too many hiccups,"
Prust said. "The biggest test was when they tied it up there in the
"That can usually deflate a team, but it didn't. We kept going and
plugging away. It was a great all-around effort by everyone."
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Vanek's second of the night restored Montreal's lead on the power
play. After hemming the Avalanche in their own end, Pacioretty,
behind the net, sent the puck to Vanek in front at 14:45.
Vanek added his third goal — the second with the man-advantage — when he tipped defenseman Alexei Emelin's point shot at 17:40.
"What I can bring to the power play is a net-front presence and also
create some room there for Patch and Davey," Vanek said. "With me
scoring in front there, maybe it will open up more room for them
While his team lost for just the third time in regulation when
scoring first, Roy maintained the positive focus that he has
preached to the Avalanche all season.
"Sometimes in a game like this small details can make the difference
between winning and losing. We miss a couple of clears on the
penalty kill and they did a good job of making sure the puck didn't
get to the other end," Roy said. "They scored great goals; it was a
great tip, great shot. Montreal played a good game. I thought both
teams played really well and tonight the puck bounced their way."
Weise sealed it with an empty-net goal.
Canadiens goaltender Carey Price made 33 saves for his first career
victory against Colorado.
Colorado goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped 23 shots.
Avalanche center John Mitchell left the game in the second period
after sliding hard into the end boards and did not return.
NOTES: Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy received a loud cheer
from fans when he was shown on the video board during the U.S.
national anthem. The game marked Roy's first time at the Bell Centre
since the Canadiens retired his jersey on Nov. 22, 2008. The Hall of
Famer played goalie for Montreal from 1985 to 1995. ... Canadiens
LW/C Brandon Prust went to the dressing room late in the first
period after getting hurt on a hit along the boards. He returned to
the bench before the period was over. ... Montreal scratched RW
George Parros, RW/LW Rene Bourque, C Ryan White and D Douglas
Murray. ... The Avalanche scratched C Ryan Wilson, D Cory Sarich, D
Paul Carey and G Semyon Varlamov. ... G Reto Berra, acquired by
Colorado at the trade deadline, backed up G Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
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