July 20th, 2024

Joel Armia scores late winner to lift Canadiens over Avalanche 4-3

By Daniel Rainbird, The Canadian Press on January 15, 2024.

Colorado Avalanche centre Ross Colton (20) is checked into Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen (34) by Canadiens defenceman David Savard (58) during second period NHL hockey action Monday, January 15, 2024 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

MONTREAL – Joel Armia scored the game-winner late in the third period as the Montreal Canadiens edged the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 on Monday night at Bell Centre.

Cole Caufield had a goal and assist, Juraj Slafkovsky and Rafael Harvey-Pinard also scored and Nick Suzuki pitched in with two assists for Montreal (18-18-7). Jake Allen stopped 32 shots to snap a three-game Canadiens winless streak.

Cale Makar – with a goal and two assists – Devon Toews and Ross Colton scored for Colorado (28-14-3), which had won 12 of its last 15 games.

Nathan MacKinnon had one assist to extend his point streak to eight games and increase his scoring total to 70, two back of Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov for the league lead.

Alexandar Georgiev made 30 saves in Colorado’s net.

After Allen made a couple big saves off MacKinnon to keep the score 3-3, Armia battled for the loose puck in front of the net and buried an unassisted backhand goal with 4:10 left in the game.

The Avalanche pulled their goalie for a frantic couple minutes with the extra attacker, but couldn’t score a fourth past Allen.

Tied 2-2 after 40 minutes, Caufield gave Montreal its first lead with his team-leading 13th of the season 1:52 into the third off a sharp-angle shot on the power play.

Colorado’s Toews tied it again at 9:37 with a one-timer during 4-on-4 play, with Mikko Rantanen extending his point streak to eight games with an assist on the goal.

Colton opened the scoring in the first period with a power-play goal at 4:28 after multiple whacks at the puck in front of the net. Former Hab Jonathan Drouin, in his first game against the Canadiens since joining the Avalanche, earned an assist on the goal.

Slafkovsky responded with his fifth of the season and first in 10 games by burying a rebound of his own on the Canadiens’ power play after a set up by captain Suzuki. The 19-year-old Slafkovsky registered five shots in the first 20 minutes.

Makar gave Colorado a 2-1 lead 1:01 into the second with a one-timer from the point that beat Allen blocker side for his 10th.

After Montreal fended off a 5-on-3 Colorado power play, Harvey-Pinard scored his first of the season, in his 16th game, by following up his own drive to the net and knocking the puck through Georgiev’s pads to tie the game with 3:52 left in the second period.

The Canadiens later announced that forward Jesse Ylonen, who took a dump in from teammate Jayden Struble off the back of his head with a minute left in the second, would not return.

DROUIN RETURNS

Drouin received a loud round of applause and saluted the fans during a video tribute at the first commercial break of his Bell Centre return, but was otherwise jeered every time he touched the puck.

The 28-year-old from Ste-Agathe, Que., left Montreal to join the Avalanche on a one-year, US$825,000 deal in free agency. He produced 48 goals and 138 assists in 321 games over six seasons with the Canadiens.

PRIDE NIGHT

The Canadiens held their annual Pride night. Promotions included several players using rainbow-coloured tape on their stick blades for warm-ups that would later go up for auction, along with Pride-themed team merchandise signed by the team, with all proceeds going to LGBTQ+ organizations You Can Play and GRIS-Montréal.

All the advertisements along the Bell Centre boards were also painted in rainbow colours. The NHL banned teams from wearing themed jerseys in warm-ups before the season began.

NICHUSHKIN ENTERS PROGRAM

Avalanche forward Valeri Nichushkin entered the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program, the league and players’ union announced earlier Monday. Nichuskin will be out of the lineup until he’s cleared by program administrators.

The 28-year-old is the second Colorado player to enter after Samuel Girard sought treatment from the program for anxiety and depression in November.

UP NEXT

Avalanche: Visit the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday.

Canadiens: Open a three-game road trip Wednesday against the New Jersey Devils.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2024.

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