(Montreal) Artturi Lehkonen greeted his return to the Bell Center with a three-point performance, including the 100th goal of his career, and was instrumental in the Colorado Avalanche’s 8-4 victory over the Montreal Canadiens Monday night at the Bell Centre.
The former Canadian scored two of his team’s four goals in the first period, his 19th and 20th of the season. He added an assist on the net of J.T. Compher (14th), which came on early in the second period.
Lehkonen didn’t have the opportunity to improve his night’s work, however, due to an upper-body injury that forced him out of the game later in the second period.
Bowen Byram (6th), Matthew Nieto (12th) and Mikko Rantanen (43rd) also beat Jake Allen, whose work night ended after just under 24 minutes of action, and six goals conceded in 15 shots.
Samuel Montembeault took over and blocked 16 pucks. He gave in to Nathan MacKinnon and Valeri Nichushkin (13th) in the third period.
The Canadian’s response came from Josh Anderson (20th), Denis Gurianov (5th), Chris Wideman (1st) and Mike Matheson (6th).
The Montreal squad was limited to 19 shots on Alexandar Georgiev, en route to a seventh straight loss, including four in a row at the Bell Centre.
The Canadian will be able to quickly forget this defeat since he will resume the collar tomorrow night, in Pittsburgh, against the Penguins.
The Avalanche hardly needed their big guns to put Martin St-Louis’ troops in a precarious position in the first half of the initial engagement.
Only one of the team’s top five scorers was on the Avalanche’s first three goals, scored in just five minutes, on just six shots.
Above all, these goals looked easy.
Lehkonen opened the scoring 2:59 into the game when he deflected a Logan O’Connor shot past Allen, despite being hampered by defender David Savard.
The goal originally went to O’Connor before being credited to Lehkonen between the first and second periods.
About three minutes later, Byram showed great acceleration down the right flank to get around Kaiden Guhle, then Allen, before sliding the puck into the net.
Nieto made it 3-0 at 8:05 of the first period after coming alone in front of Allen, following a precise pass from another former Canadian, Lars Eller.
Then, Lehkonen reached 100 career goals with exactly four minutes left in the first period.
He did so with another deflection, this one with his right arm, from a shot by Rantanen, 38 seconds into a Matheson penalty.
Anderson finally brought some cheer to the stands at the Bell Center by hitting the target with 62 seconds left on the kickoff.
This late goal, however, did not have the expected effects for the Habs, who conceded two other quick goals at the start of the middle period, those of Rantanen and Compher.
Compher’s net ended Allen’s night’s work and the Canadiens’ hopes of a first win in March, despite goals from Wideman and Matheson midway through the third period.