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MacKinnon's line helps Avalanche defeat Canadiens

by Sean Farrell

MONTREAL -- Nathan MacKinnon's revamped line led the Colorado Avalanche to another big win during their longest road trip of the season.

MacKinnon had three points, including goals 13 seconds apart in the first, and Colorado extended its winning streak to three games with a 6-1 victory against the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre on Saturday.

Mikhail Grigorenko and Matt Duchene each had a goal and two assists. MacKinnon's line combined for nine points.

Reto Berra made 39 saves, and Blake Comeau and John Mitchell scored for the Avalanche (7-9-1), who had won the first two games of their seven-game road trip.

"I don't think we're in the elite conversation of the League yet," MacKinnon said. "We're working, we want to earn that, but whether they had a good night or not, we played very well. We stuck to our system and Reto played great for us, so we're happy with the win."

The Avalanche took a 3-0 lead in the first despite being outshot 18-8 in the period. Colorado outshot Montreal 40-24.

"[Berra] was phenomenal. He was very, very good," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "It's funny how it goes sometimes because the Canadiens dominated the first period and it was 3-0 for us. That doesn't happen often, but you take it when it happens. I felt we played better in the second. Even though we only had three shots, I thought we defended better than we did in the first."

MacKinnon's two first-period tallies in 13 seconds were four seconds off Jon Klemm's team record for the fastest two goals scored by one player. Klemm scored goals nine seconds apart in the first period of a 6-5 overtime loss at the Calgary Flames on Oct. 17, 1997.

"It's always fun to score," MacKinnon said. "It put a pretty commanding lead on the game at the end of the first and I think that took a lot of energy out of them. They made it 3-1, and then we scored shorthanded, 4-1, so it was a top-to-bottom effort and it definitely feels very good."

Brendan Gallagher scored for Montreal (13-3-2), which lost in regulation for the first time in nine home games.

"Anybody can beat anybody on any night," Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban said. "And if you can't execute your game plan to a T, especially when teams are coming into our barn knowing where we are in the standings, teams are aggressive, and they were aggressive right from the start."

Canadiens rookie Mike Condon allowed four goals on 11 shots in his first regulation loss in nine games. Condon, who is 6-1-2, made his seventh consecutive start with Carey Price sidelined because of a lower-body injury.

Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog sat out the first game of his two-game suspension for his hit to the head of Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand on Thursday.

Matt Duchene assisted on Grigorenko's first Colorado goal, and assisted on MacKinnon's second. The line scored three times and combined for seven points in the first period.

Grigorenko moved onto the Avalanche's top line Thursday when he replaced Landeskog, who was given a match penalty for his hit on Marchand.

After being set up by Grigorenko for the game-winning goal in Boston, Duchene made the play that led to his linemate's opening goal against Montreal, a shot along the ice past Condon from the slot at 3:26 of the first.

MacKinnon put Colorado up 2-0 just after Condon stopped Jack Skille's backhand on a breakaway. Grigorenko tapped a loose puck to MacKinnon off a faceoff and the Avalanche center spun around and snapped a wrist shot past Condon for his seventh goal at 18:25.

MacKinnon made it 3-0 with his eighth goal at 18:38 when he took a return pass from Grigorenko and tucked a backhand into the top right corner.

"It was a lot of fun right from the start, right from the warmup," Grigorenko said. "They're great players and all you've got to do is play our game and just don't try to change it, and it looked like we had pretty good chemistry out there and I'm really happy about my game."

Gallagher scored his eighth goal at 8:48 of the second.

Comeau restored Colorado's three-goal lead at 4-1 when he scored shorthanded at 12:55 for his 200th point in his 500th game.

Condon, who had not previously allowed more than three goals, was replaced by Dustin Tokarski for the third period.

Duchene scored his eighth goal on a power play at 11:05 of the third. Mitchell extended the lead to five with his fifth goal at 14:10.

Tokarski made 11 saves. The six goals were the most allowed by Montreal, which lost 5-1 at the Vancouver Canucks on Oct. 27.

"It was 4-1 after two periods but we had triple the shots," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. "It was just one of those nights."

With defenseman Alexei Emelin sidelined because of a lower-body injury, Greg Pateryn made his season debut for the Canadiens. Pateryn played with Tom Gilbert, and Nathan Beaulieu played with Jeff Petry in the first change to Montreal coach Michel Therrien's defense pairings this season.

"La Marseille," the national anthem of France, was played amid cheers and cellphone lights from the crowd after a moment of silence was observed for the victims of the Paris terror attacks Friday.

The French flag was skated onto the ice by one of the two minor hockey players who greeted the Canadiens' entrance before the game.

"I was really touched, and I still can't believe what happened," said Berra, a native of Switzerland.

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