MONTREAL — It wasn’t until the last third before you see the Canadian take flight, but goals from Brett Kulak, outnumbered, and Jesperi Kotkaniemi in a span of 2:18 in the third period helped the club defeat the Colorado Avalanche 3-0 on Saturday.
Claude Julien hoped that changes to its trios would cause a spark. Jonathan Drouin was on the left side of Phillip Danault and Brendan Gallagher, while Max Domi was at the centre of Artturi Lehkonen and Joel Armia. Tomas Tatar had been transferred to the left side of Kotkaniemi and Paul Byron.
Carey Price has kept the fort, waiting to see his teammates take over and he eventually stopped 28 shots to add a third clean sheet to his record this season — 43rd career.
Danault has tallied two helpers, while Jordie Benn has completed the mark in a empty net late in the game and the Canadian (24-17-5) recorded a third win since the start of the new year (3-3-0), a 3500e in its history. He has scored 10 goals in six games.
“We have been very good about the game, outnumbered and in numerical advantage. Even if we have not scored in this situation, I found that it was much better, said Julien. I found that we played a good match from the beginning to the end.”
The Canadian has found a way to neutralize the trio the most formidable in the circuit. Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog had accumulated a total of 18 points in their three previous releases. They were limited to five shots on goal in the match, but were instead deleted.
The Avalanche was shutout for only the second time this season.
“We have not given too much space, we managed to kill the game as quickly as possible, noted Julien about the success of his team in the face of the unit, the elite of the Avalanche. This is a trio that likes to build the game from behind the net. Shea Weber is big and strong and he was able to help on that side.
“We had also on more than a trio to play against them. We wanted to make sure we have the players rested when they were jumping on the ice. This is a trio that plays around 24 or 25 minutes per game. There was no question of trying to put a single trio against them.”
Semyon Varlamov has sold two times in front of 30 shots, and the Avalanche (20-17-8) has cashed in a ninth setback in 10 outings (1-7-2).
Varlamov has also been lucky a few times. Armia has reached the post in the first period, while Weber and Lehkonen have experienced the same frustration in the third period.
It took 48:21 of the game before you see a team blink the red light. For a numerical inferiority, Danault won a bet in play to the right of Varlamov and has sent the disk to the blue line at Kulak. The defender took a shot of inoffensive appearance who has shaken up the rope since the goalkeeper of visitors has ever seen.
Kotkaniemi was then benefited from a pass cross-sectional Drouin to take a powerful launch on the receipt against the current that beat Varlamov.
Julien had also amended its units into digital advantage. The Canadian was 0-for-3 and did not fly in the digital advantage at home in its last 27 opportunities, a famine that lasts from nine parties.
The Canadian will take up the collar as soon as Monday, when he will visit the Bruins in Boston. He will be back at the Bell Centre the next day to host the Florida Panthers.
Echoes of locker room
Phillip Danault comments on the adaptation period to the result of the changes to trios:
“It took us two periods to adjust, but we were solid defensively. It started by Price and our defenders. (…) We have continued the same way in the third. It was one of our finest efforts of 60 minutes of the season.”
Shea Weber about the effort defensively in the face of the trio of MacKinnon, Rantanen and Landeskog:
“It takes an effort from all five players on the ice to reduce their time with the puck and spaces. These are players who are fast and who are beefy. It is not necessary to give them space and hope you get out of it. I think everyone has done a good job.”
Jonathan Drouin analysis the meeting:
“The match was not bad tight, it was not much, but we were happy with our first two periods. We also felt the frustration of the other side, especially on the side of the trio of MacKinnon. We have been able to generate a little more offensive in the third and it paid off.”