Canadiens seek modest win streak in matchup with red-hot Avs

League: NHL

Posted on: 25 Mar, 2024 at 11:30 PM

Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens have not won two straight games since the middle of January, but they have a chance to end that drought Tuesday night.

It won't be easy because Montreal's next game is at the Colorado Avalanche, the hottest team in the NHL.

Colorado (46-20-5, 97 points) has won nine straight games after rallying from a four-goal deficit to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-4 in overtime on Sunday.

The Avalanche have moved into first place in the Central Division with 11 games left and have no margin for error if they want to get one of the top two seeds in the Western Conference for the playoffs.

Colorado is rolling behind the play of Hart Trophy candidate Nathan MacKinnon and a lineup that added depth at the trade deadline. MacKinnon is second in the NHL in scoring with 122 points -- the most by an Avalanche player since the franchise relocated to Colorado in 1995 -- and he's on an 18-game points streak for the second time this season.

MacKinnon had a goal and two assists Sunday to extend his home points streak to 34 games, second to Wayne Gretzky's 40-game streak in 1988-89, but the Avalanche were able to rally because of the play of others.

Center Yakov Trenin and defenseman Sean Walker, two guys added in deadline deals, scored goals during the rally and showed what depth can do for you. Colorado had it when it won the Stanley Cup two years ago before the salary cap thinned out the roster last season.

This year the depth is back.

"You can't win against really good teams, consistently, if you don't have that depth," coach Jared Bednar said Sunday.

One of the depth players from two years ago is current Canadiens center Alex Newhook. He had two goals in Sunday's 5-1 win at Seattle that helped end a four-game skid for Montreal (26-32-12, 64 points).

The last time the Canadiens won two straight was Jan. 15-17, and the first of those victories came against the Avalanche. Montreal, which has not won more than two in a row all season, is 7-14-5 since then.

The Canadiens are dealing with more than wins and losses right now. Head coach Martin St. Louis is on an indefinite leave since March 16 due to family reasons, and Sunday night's win was the team's first with assistant coach Trevor Letowski assuming head coaching duties.

"It was a memorable week for me because of the way the team rallied around each other, and the staff and players kind of had to just push a little extra just to keep some kind of normalcy when we're missing our leader," Letowski said.

Montreal is wrapping up a five-game road trip Tuesday night with a chance to go home on a winning note. That will be difficult against Colorado, which is 28-6-0 on home ice and has won the first two of a five-game homestand.

The Canadiens are 13-15-8 on the road, but that is a better mark than they have at home (13-17-4).

-Field Level Media