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game recap

Mikko Rantanen hat trick boosts Avalanche

Rookie's first three-goal game in NHL sends Canadiens to fourth straight loss

by Rick Sadowski / Correspondent

DENVER -- Rookie Mikko Rantanen had his first NHL hat trick, and Calvin Pickard made 27 saves for the Colorado Avalanche in a 4-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens at Pepsi Center on Tuesday.

The shutout was Pickard's second of the season, third of his NHL career. He allowed four goals on 27 shots in a 10-1 loss in Montreal on Dec. 10.

Rantanen had a goal in each period and completed the hat trick on a 5-on-3 power play at 6:01 of the third for a 4-0 Avalanche lead.


WATCH: All Canadiens vs. Avalanche highlights


"It's a dream come true," said Rantanen, who has five goals in the past five games, 11 this season. "You watch other guys when you are younger, watch guys score hat tricks and the crowd is going wild, so it's a dream come true. The most important thing was the two points.

"I think we earned a little payback from what happened in Montreal. No one was happy, it was embarrassing. We were really sharp tonight and we played a solid 60 minutes."

The Avalanche (15-33-2) have won two consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 19 and 21. They ended a nine-game losing streak Saturday with a 5-2 win against the Winnipeg Jets.

"The big thing about our last couple of games is we haven't blown anything," Pickard said. "We keep staying the course and going into the third periods with leads, and we don't panic and we finish the job."

Video: MTL@COL: Martinsen goes five-hole on odd-man rush

The Canadiens (30-17-8) have lost four games in a row. They were coming off a 1-0 shootout loss Sunday to the Edmonton Oilers.

"We knew they were going to give their all after the result in our building, and we just played a very poor game," Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty said. "It was just very poor, I don't know what else to say. It's unacceptable and we have three games here before break. We got to find it, we have to bear down and try to find three wins."

Rantanen scored his second goal of the game at 13:10 of the second period to put the Avalanche ahead 3-0.

Rantanen scored from above the right faceoff circle along the boards for a 1-0 lead 30 seconds into the game. He credited Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon for screening goalie Carey Price.

Video: Pickard earns Tuesday's Pepsi Zero Sugar Shutout

"I was surprised (it went in)," he said. "It was a great job by those guys to go to the net. It's hard to score from that far if there's nobody going to the net, so that was good for them."

Andreas Martinsen made it 2-0 at 2:25 while skating down the left wing, beating Price to the short side for his third of the season. Pickard had the second assist, his first of the season.

"That had something to do with the way the first game went in Montreal," said Price, who had 22 saves. "We've got to be prepared for that. That's not a good game, nothing to be proud of."

Video: MTL@COL: Rantanen erupts, collects first career hatty


Goal of the game

Rantanen was in the right circle when he beat Price to the short side with a one-timer off MacKinnon's cross-ice pass for his third goal.

Video: MTL@COL: Rantanen nets PPG for first NHL hat trick


Save of the game

Pickard put his left pad down in time to stop Andrew Shaw at 3:34 of the second period. Shaw took a pass behind the net and tried to jam the puck inside the right post.

Video: MTL@COL: Pickard shuts down Shaw with solid pad stop


Highlight of the game

MacKinnon won a faceoff in the right circle, and Landeskog passed to Mark Barberio in the high slot for a shot that Rantanen deflected in for his second goal.

Video: MTL@COL: Rantanen pots nifty redirect for his second


Unsung performance of the game

Avalanche forward Matt Nieto used his leg to block a point shot by Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber while killing a penalty at 12:51 of the third period. Nieto was helped off the ice and went for X-rays. No update was available.


They said it

"It's definitely been a frustrating stretch. At the same time, you have to keep plugging away at it. I'm not going to be too hard on myself. Try and stay as positive as I can and try to keep moving forward." -- Canadiens goalie Carey Price, who has lost three in a row and is 3-8-1 in his past 12 games


"These last couple games we've been a four-line team, we've gotten contributions from the other lines and offensive plays, scoring chances, goals. [Calvin Pickard] was good in goal. We just couldn't put it all together (before) and we've been able to do that the last two nights." -- Avalanche coach Jared Bednar


Need to know

Rantanen is the third Avalanche rookie to have a hat trick. Marek Svatos had two in 2005-06, and Radim Vrbata had one in 2001-02. ... Colorado forward Jarome Iginla played his 1,524th NHL game to tie Brendan Shanahan for 14th in League history. ... The Canadiens were 0-for-5 on the power play and have gone 11 in a row without a goal in the past five games.


What's next

Canadiens: At the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday (9 p.m. ET; FS-A, SNE, RDS, NHL.TV)

Avalanche: Host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday (9 p.m. ET; ALT, ROOT, NHL.TV)


Video: Rantanen's first career hat trick helps top Habs, 4-0

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