For just the third time this season, the Colorado Avalanche have won two games in a row. It’s not quite a winning streak yet, but it’s a start.
Powered by Mikko Rantanen’s first NHL hat trick and a shutout from Calvin Pickard, the Avalanche handed the Montreal Canadiens their fourth straight loss in a 4-0 win.
This was just the second time all season the Avalanche have won two games in any homestand this season, and will have a chance to win all three games if they can beat the Penguins on Thursday.
Here are my five takeaways from the win.
1. What a game from Rantanen. He scored the second hat trick this season for the Avalanche and did it in different ways. He floated a shot early in the first that beat Carey Price, then re-directed a Mark Barberio shot in the high slot for his second goal. He then topped it off with a beautiful one-timer from the right circle on a 5-on-3 power play opportunity. He now has five goals in the past five games. The important thing for me is that he is starting to shoot the puck more instead of always looking to pass first which was his problem early on this season.
2. Pickard was terrific for the second straight game to earn his third career shutout with 26 saves. He wasn’t pressured a ton tonight, but made several key saves in the second period when the Avalanche weren’t as sharp in their own end and then held on with four big stops late to hang onto the shutout. No reason to think he won’t be back in net on Thursday.
3. Special teams were really good for the Avalanche tonight at both ends. The power play delivered it’s second 5-on-3 goal this year and the penalty kill went 5-for-5 while not giving up a goal for the first time in five games.
4. There is no question that depth has been a huge issue this season, especially when it comes to scoring but over the last two games the Avalanche have shown just how important it is. For the second straight game the got scoring from the fourth line with Andreas Martinsen’s first period tally. This after Jerome Iginla and Carl Soderberg scored from their bottom six roles on Saturday against Winnipeg.
5. Another solid effort for Nikita Zadorov tonight. His development continues to be one of the bright spots over the last month, and it’s just fun to see him start to play with a ton of confidence. He did take a bad tripping penalty tonight in the third, but you can live with it when the opponent can’t take advantage and he does good things around it. He played 22:09 tonight, second most on the team and had two shots on goal with six attempts total with four hits to go along with it. It appears that “it” has clicked for him of late, and let’s enjoy the start of what could be a stud defensemen emerging for this franchise.