Gabriel Landeskog #92 of the Colorado Avalanche celebrates his goal against the Montreal Canadiens to give the Avalanche a 1-0 lead in the second period at Pepsi Center on Nov. 2, 2013 in Denver.
Photograph by: Doug Pensinger, Getty Images
DENVER — Rookie Nathan MacKinnon scored at 8:01 of the third period to snap a 1-1 and the Colorado Avalanche went to defeat the Canadiens 4-1 Saturday night at the Pepsi Center. Budaj, who was making his first start against his former team, made a skate save on Gabriel Landeskog, but MacKinnon scored on the rebound. The loss left the Canadiens at 8-7, while the Avalanche are a franchise-best 12-1 to start the season.
Killer defence: The Avalanche have the best penalty-killing record in the NHL, but their string of successful penalty kills ended at 22 when Brendan Gallagher scored at 3:39 of the third period to tie the game at 1-1. Jean-Sébastien Giguère made the save on P.K. Subban’s shot from the blue line, but Gallagher scored on the rebound. The Avalanche had two power plays, but the Canadiens, who rank seventh on the PK, killed them both.
Breaking through: Landeskog broke up the goaltending duel between Budaj and Giguère when he scored at 11:14 of the second period. The Avalanche took possession of the puck when Douglas Murray lost it between his skates and Marc-André Cliche sent Landeskog into the clear. The Avalanche captain connected with a slapshot off the rush, which found the short-side top corner on Budaj’s blocker side.
The goalies’ numbers: Budaj, who also gave up an insurance goal to Ryan O’Reilly after Subban gave up the puck behind the Montreal net, made 27 saves and suffered his first loss in three starts this season. The loss also ended his 10-game winning streak dating back to last season. Giguère had 30 stops as he improved to 4-0. P.A. Parenteau added an empty-net goal.
Best Foote forward: Former defenceman Adam Foote had his number 52 retired in a ceremony prior to the game. He is the fifth Colorado player to be honoured, joining Patrick Roy, Joe Sakic, Raymond Bourque and Peter Forsberg. In its previous incarnation as the Quebec Nordiques, the franchise honoured J.C. Tremblay, Michel Goulet, Peter Stastny and Marc Tardif.
Injury update: Max Pacioretty returned to the Canadiens’ lineup after missing eight games with a strained hamstring. Michael Blunden was scratched to make room for Pacioretty in the lineup. Avalanche forward Alex Tanguay left the game in the second period.
Much ado about nothing: There were two fights before the game was five minutes old, and they had absolutely zero bearing on the game. Ryan White took on Cody McLeod before George Parros traded punches with Patrick Bordeleau, who kept in shape during last season’s lockout by playing with Cornwall in the Quebec goon league.
What’s next: There’s another reunion game on tap this week as Jaroslav Halak returns to the Bell Centre on Tuesday with the St. Louis Blues (7:30 p.m., TSN, RDS, TSN Radio 690). The Canadiens travel to Ottawa on Thursday and wrap up the week with a home game against the New York Islanders on Saturday.
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