O’Reilly, Avs ruin Habs’ home opener

 

Colorado rookie Ryan O’Reilly picked the perfect time to score his first NHL goal. O’Reilly’s second effort at 13:47 of the third period gave the Colorado Avalanche a 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens Thursday night.

 
 
 
 
 

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MONTREAL — Colorado rookie Ryan O’Reilly picked the perfect time to score his first NHL goal. O’Reilly’s second effort at 13:47 of the third period gave the Colorado Avalanche a 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens Thursday night.

Cody McLeod slammed Scott Gomez into the end boards to the side of the Canadiens’ net and, while the fans were screaming for a penalty, O’Reilly was in position to take a pass from David Jones. Canadiens goaltender Carey Price made the stop on O’Reilly’s initial shot but O’Reilly connected on the rebound.

“I don’t know (if it should have been a penalty); I didn’t see the play,” said Habs’ Mike Cammalleri. “But even if it should have been, it’s not an excuse for us. We have to keep playing. We makes mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, everyone’s human. Even if he did make a mistake and I’m not saying he did, we have to keep playing.”

The goal spoiled a good effort by the Canadiens in their home opener as they outshot the Avalanche 31-23 and came back to tie the score earlier in the third period. They also killed off four Colorado power plays.

Tomas Plekanec provided the offensive spark for the Canadiens. He set up Roman Hamrlik for the game’s opening goal and tied the game when he converted a pass from linemate Andrei Kostitsyn at 8:26 of the third period.

“I thought we had a good forecheck,” said Plekanec, whose second linemate was Cammalleri. “I thought we supported each other as a line. We were able to jump on the loose pucks and that’s why we had success. But we have to do it on a more consistent basis.”

The bounces went Colorado’s way in the second period. The Avalanche scored twice with goals that went in off the skates of Montreal defencemen.

Milan Hejduk tied the score 1-1 when his 10-footer caromed off the skate of Josh Gorges while the teams were playing 4-on-4. The puck went through Price’s pads and, while the deflection didn’t help, he might have made the save if his stick had been on the ice.

The Avalanche went ahead at 19:32 when Kyle Cumiskey’s pass from the side boards went off Shawn Belle’s skate. Price was moving over to cover a player coming in for a backdoor play and that left a wide opening in the net.

The Canadiens got off to a strong start. They not only took a 1-0 lead in the opening period but they played the kind of puck possession game head coach Jacques Martin has been preaching.

Montreal outshot Colorado 11-6 and opened the scoring when defenceman Roman Hamrlik went back door and took a pass from Tomas Plekanec on a power play at 9:53.

Kostitsyn picked up the second assist on the Hamrlik goal. He was benched after a costly turnover in the loss to Edmonton last Saturday and he responded Thursday night with his strongest game this season, picking up assists on both goals.

The Canadiens had three power plays to none for the Avalanche in the first period and forced Colorado goaltender Craig Anderson to come up with some big saves.

Thursday night’s game was the first of six consecutive home games for the Canadiens, who are back in action Saturday night when ex-Canadien Alex Kovalev and the Ottawa Senators are in town.
 
 
 
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