NHL Hockey

Cale Makar, Avalanche try to extend Canadiens' slump

Considering the Montreal Canadiens are winless in March, the Colorado Avalanche appear to have a good chance at winning back-to-back games for the first time this month.

The visiting Avalanche will look to hand the Canadiens a seventh straight defeat on Monday night.

Colorado won its final six games in February but is 2-3-1 in March. With Saturday's 3-2 overtime triumph against Arizona, the reigning Stanley Cup champion Avalanche have won two of three with a chance to string more victories together while trying to remain in playoff position in the Western Conference.

"I don't think anybody gets overanxious in here," said star defenseman Cale Makar, who scored the game-winner 1:38 into overtime on Saturday. "But as a group, if you want to find that success, everybody's got to have that patience like we did last year in the playoffs."

Makar has two goals with five assists during a four-game point streak for Colorado. Meanwhile, teammate Nathan MacKinnon has a goal in four straight games, while 14 of his 28 goals this season have come over a 14-game stretch in which he's also posted 10 assists.

MacKinnon was not in the lineup, but Makar had an assist and Alexandar Georgiev faced just 20 shots during Colorado's 2-1 overtime home victory against Montreal on Dec. 21. The Avalanche have won four straight over the Canadiens, who are 0-4-2 in March.

However, the first five of those games this month were decided by one goal before Saturday's 3-1 home defeat to New Jersey. Second-to-last in the Eastern Conference standings, the Canadiens are also mired in an 0-2-2 rut at home, where their most recent victory came on Feb. 14 against Chicago.

"Another close loss, but I think there's again some good things we can take away from this game," said Montreal goaltender Jake Allen, who made 34 saves against the Devils.

"It's been tough, obviously, to find a win, but we're still playing some decent hockey despite our record."

Allen is 0-3-1 this month but has a 2.99 goals-against average. He made 34 saves at Colorado earlier this season. Teammate Sam Montembeault has a 12-13-3 record and a 3.28 goals-against average on the season.

Georgiev, who faced just 20 shots against the Ducks on Saturday, has a 2.12 GAA and .922 save percentage during his current 5-2-1 starting stretch.

Canadiens captain Nick Suzuki has matched a career high with 21 goals while posting a team-leading 49 points this season. However, he's gone without a point in his last three contests. He has a goal with an assist in four career games versus Colorado.

Teammate Denis Gurianov, acquired from Dallas in the trade for Evgenii Dadonov last month, has tallied a goal and an assist over the last two contests.

The Canadiens will try to avoid dropping seven in a row for the second time this season. The first such losing streak came from Dec. 21-Jan. 5.

--Field Level Media

Updated March 12, 2023

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