DENVER -- This time, the Colorado Avalanche didnct require any 11th-hour magic to keep their winning streak intact.
But the Avalanche did need to kill off two penalties in the third period Sunday night, including one with 4 1-2 minutes remaining, to preserve a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens at the Pepsi Center.
Colorado has won six games in a row, going 7-0-1 in the past eight home games and 11-3-3 overall since Nov. 15 despite losing a body or two on almost a nightly basis.
Center Paul Stastny returned to the lineup after missing one game with a sore upper back and neck, but the Avalanche only had 11 forwards available because Daniel Winnik came down with the flu and Cody McLeod suffered a groin injury in Friday's 6-5 overtime win against Ottawa.
"It's satisfying just getting the wins," coach Joe Sacco said after the Avalanche climbed back into first place in the Northwest Division, two points in front of idle Vancouver. cI've used this word before, but we have a resilient group here. It certainly feels good, and it should feel good for the players, too."
The Canadiens got power-play goals from Michael Cammalleri at 10:50 of the first period and Alexandre Picard at 2:58 of the second for a 2-1 lead, but the Avalanche penalty-killing units came through at crunch time after Kevin Porter and TJ Galiardi managed to get pucks by goalie Carey Price in the second period.
Avalanche goalie Craig Anderson came up big in the third period when the Canadiens owned a 14-5 advantage in shots, with five of them coming on two power plays. The second man advantage came with 4:32 to play after defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk shot the puck over the glass and was penalized for delay of game.
"We killed off a big one at the end there," Sacco said. "We don't like to give up two on the power play, but when we needed (the penalty killing) to step up, it did."
Ryan O'Reilly, who had two assists and set up Galiardi's game winner at 16:12 of the second period, was on the ice for both Canadiens goals but also had a hand in killing off the last two penalties.
"I think we came together as a team there," O'Reilly said. "That's the most important time to get the penalties killed. I don't think I had the best night on the penalty kill, but I was able to help out offensively and maybe make up for it. Plus, Andy stood on his head when the pressure was on us."
Anderson, on a 6-0-2 roll, only faced 15 shots through the first 40 minutes but was busy in the third when the Canadiens spent gobs of time in the Avalanche end.
"I had a good effort and gave my team a chance to win," he said. "My job is to give the team a chance to win, whether it's 6-5 or 2-1. We did a great job of blocking shots and allowing me to see the puck, doing everything to win a hockey game there at the end."
Earlier in the period, Anderson left the crease to poke the puck away from Andrei Kostitsyn and prevent what had the makings of a golden scoring chance.
"We had chances, but we were missing some of them," Canadiens forward Jeff Halpern said.
Picard knocked in a rebound to give the Canadiens their 2-1 lead, but Porter tied the game 63 seconds later. He had a step on Picard skating down right wing when he accepted a cross-ice pass from Philippe Dupuis and put a back-handed shot between Price's pads.
Galiardi, who has netted a goal in consecutive games after missing 17 games to recover from a broken wrist, drove to the net as O'Reilly launched a shot from between the faceoff circles. The rebound popped in the air, hit Galiardi in the chest and bounced behind Price, who finished with 25 saves.
"It wasn't very pretty," Galiardi said. "But you go to the net hard and good things happen. It's nice to come back and get a couple wins. I was a little worried when I came back because we were on a winning streak and I didn't want us to lose and make it look like it was my fault. It feels good to be back and make contributions."
Cammalleri opened the scoring for Montreal with his first-period goal that came 10 seconds after Dupuis went off for high sticking. The Avalanche tied the game on Ryan Wilson's power-play goal with 5.5 seconds remaining in the first. Wilson fired a puck from the left point that made its way through several players.
The Avalanche announced before the game that defenseman Kyle Quincey would undergo season-ending surgery "in the near future." Quincey, who is in the first year of a two-year, $6.25 million contract, was injured in a Dec. 11 game at Washington.
The Canadiens began a seven-game road trip but will return home for Christmas after playing Dallas on Tuesday and Carolina on Thursday. Their next home game isn't until Jan. 2 against Atlanta.
1 - 0 MTL
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 MTL
2 - 2 Tie
3 - 2 COL
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