Call of the Wilde: Montreal Canadiens fall 2-1 in overtime to Colorado Avalanche

Wednesday night was stop two of a seven-game road trip for the Montreal Canadiens, after winning stop one in Arizona in overtime. It was a harder test in Colorado, and this one went to overtime as well.

At game’s end, the Avalanche took the win over the Habs, 2-1.

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The Arizona Coyotes are one of the worst teams in the league, yet on Monday night they gave the Canadiens a hockey lesson, even though Montreal won thanks to Samuel Montembeault’s robbery.

Two nights later, a prediction of the Stanley Cup champions handling Montreal easily was the expectation.

However, this is why they play the games. Nothing is as clear as it seems.

The Canadiens had a 1-0 lead after a first period that they controlled. The line of Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield and Kirby Dach had over a minute of pressure late in the frame. The Avs couldn’t get the puck out of their own zone at times in a first period they were uncharacteristically weak.

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The only goal in the first was scored by Anthony Richard. It was his first goal as a Canadiens player in his second game, and it was the first of his career in his fourth game after getting a game per season in Nashville.

Sometimes a first NHL goal isn’t that memorable. It can hit a skate on the way in. It can be a screen shot from 50 feet. Richard can tell his kids that his first goal was outstanding, and he won’t be telling a tall tale.

Richard got a pass at centre ice and used his great speed to beat Erik Johnson down the ice. He gained two strides on the Avalanche defender, then cut across the crease to count on the breakaway. It was a gorgeous goal.

Talk about perseverance for Richard. He was in the American Hockey League seven seasons waiting for a chance that had more than one game per year in it. He earned that chance with 18 goals in 27 games in Laval this season.

He celebrated his 26th birthday on Tuesday night, so he’s not going to turn into Maurice Richard, but remain only Anthony Richard. However, if he keeps bringing his strong skating to the rink, then he can be more valuable than some fourth-liners Montreal has tried this year.

Speed is always valuable, and speed can always have moments of brilliance; moments that can turn a game around. For this reason, Richard deserves to stay.

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The second period saw both teams revert back to expected form. Colorado outshot Montreal 15-4 in the second period as Montreal had a hard time handling the Avs swarming style.

It’s not great development when the goalies keep stealing games. The players like the results, but actually being better at hockey is preferred to Jake Allen and Sam Montembeault stealing games.

In fact, the Canadiens lead the league in that not well known statistic as Montembeault has stolen four victories and Allen has stolen three. That’s about half of the win total for Montreal that they were not the better team, but had a clear advantage in goal.

Third period was an even more significant thievery than the second as Colorado spent what seemed the entire period in Montreal’s end. Justice finally prevailed with the Avs winning in overtime, outshooting Montreal 35-20 overall.

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In the next 17 days, the Call of the Wilde will feature scouting reports of Canadiens prospects playing at the World Junior Championships. The event starts on the 26th of December, but there are pre-tournament games as well.

In one this afternoon in Moncton, N.B., the United States met Sweden which was also a match-up of Lane Hutson against Adam Engstrom.

This one was all Hutson, as the second-rounder continues to play exciting hockey. It is getting harder and harder to not imagine Hutson playing for the Canadiens soon. He passes every challenge he faces despite his five-foot-nine-inch frame.

That frame didn’t seem to be an issue at all. In fact, Hutson didn’t look small in this contest, so perhaps he is still growing as he said he would when he came with a doctor’s note to the combine last summer.

Hutson has been stellar at the University of Boston in his freshman season, notching more than a point per game as a defenceman.

Hutson looked extremely comfortable in this one. He didn’t see the ice a lot as the match had a lot of penalties, and he has not been asked to work on the kill.

However, when he got out on 5-on-5 or on the power play, he was outstanding. In the first period, he took it to the net beautifully to have a quality chance. In the second period, Hutson faced pressure at his own blue line, then he got the puck, and immediately threaded an 80-foot pass through the neutral zone.

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It was the speed that Hutson found the forward on the pass that was remarkable. He needed no time at all to know exactly what to do and then he executed perfectly.

Later in the second period, Hutson joined a rush that was led by Logan Cooley. Hutson got the feed after making sure that he had moved into open space. Hutson charged the net, feigning that he may take it to goal, but instead veered slightly wider to open space for a streaking Cutter Gauthier who slashed through the crease to score an easy tally.

Hutson was brilliant on this play. It was such a sweet pass.

Invariably, the next question is always, “But what about the defence?” for the diminutive defender, and again, there was nothing to note at all in terms of shortcomings. Hutson continues to look like he will be an NHLer, and perhaps a star.

Less can be said about Adam Engstrom, who is having an outstanding season in the top league in Sweden the SHL. The reports are that Engstrom, who is a third-round draft choice, is making the case to be an NHL player.

However, in this one, there was little to note. Firstly, there were few who stood out at all for Sweden who were dominated quite badly. Engstrom didn’t stand out for difficulty, but he certainly didn’t stand out either for excellence.

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Engstrom in this one did not offer up much to give him a grade either way, but Hutson, once again, gets an A+.

In the evening game, Filip Mesar didn’t get a chance to show much for Slovakia against Canada as the Slovaks barely were able to touch the puck. Slovakia had one shot in the second period. However, another fantastic game for Joshua Roy for Canada.

What an interesting study Roy is as Habs prospect. He did not look good at camp for the Canadiens, yet Owen Beck looked outstanding. However, Roy played on the first line with Shane Wright and Connor Bedard for Canada on Wednesday, but Beck was cut from the squad.

Roy in the QMJHL and at the World’s is one heck of a talented hockey player. In fact, he’s one of the absolute best. In this one, he scored once and added an assist. He looks like an NHL player for sure, though he is not considered one of the club’s best prospects at this time.

It’s going to be quite interesting to see where Roy lands. As a fifth-round draft pick, he’s already surprised everyone, and he just keeps on getting better.

Brian Wilde, a Montreal-based sports writer, brings you Call of the Wilde on after each Canadiens game

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