Rantanen scores in overtime as Avalanche inflict 4th loss on Canadiens in 5 games

Mikko Rantanen scored 1:51 into overtime, Artturi Lehkonen scored in his first game against his former team and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 Wednesday night for their fifth victory in six games.

After Jonathan Druin couldn’t finish for Montreal from close range, the Avs broke on a 2-on-1 and Devon Toews fed Rantanen for his 22nd goal.

Alexandar Georgiev made 19 saves and the Avalanche did just enough to earn their third straight streak. Colorado hasn’t scored more than three goals in a game since winning 6-4 at Buffalo on Dec. 1.

Anthony Richard scored his first NHL goal and Jake Allen stopped 34 shots for the Canadiens, who lost four of five.

Lehkonen, in the middle of the game, scored on the power play early in the third period to tie the game at 1.

Seven seconds after Richard headed to the penalty box to hook, Lehkonen executed the Rantanen feed to end a nearly 108-minute scoreless drought for the Avalanche. They beat the New York Islanders 1-0 on Monday in a shootout.

Before that, it looked like the Avs would never solve Allen.

He made a flurry of saves early in the second period, none more beautiful than his sprawling close-range save from Logan O’Connor. Allen also held Colorado at bay on a power play linking second and third, getting help when Valeri Nichushkin sensed a close chance.

WATCH | The winner of Rantanen OT gives the Avalanche victory over the Habs:

Rantanen’s overtime winner gives Avs victory over Canadians

Mikko Rantanen scores in overtime, securing a 2-1 win for Colorado against Montreal.

Before the game, Canadiens coach Martin St. Louis acknowledged that it was an important game for his improved team.

« They’re obviously missing some great players, but collectively it’s a tough brand to play against, » he said. « So it’s a good measuring stick. »

And the Canadiens struck fast as Richard, who turned 26 on Tuesday, used his speed to weave between two defensemen and beat Georgiev on a breakaway 1:48 into his fourth NHL game.

WATCH | Hoffman’s overtime winner allows the Canadiens to beat the Coyotes:

Hoffman’s overtime winner lifts Habs over Coyotes

Mike Hoffman scored in overtime to give Montreal a 3-2 win over Arizona on Monday night.

Richard played 389 games in the AHL, having played just two games in two seasons with Nashville before Montreal gave him a chance.

Members of the Montreal media crowded around Lehkonen after the morning practice. The 27-year-old winger spent six seasons with the Canadiens before being sent to Colorado before last season’s trade deadline.

Lehkonen scored four game-winning goals in the playoffs as he helped the Avalanche win the Stanley Cup. A year earlier, he scored the game-winning goal in overtime that sent the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup Final.

« I feel like I was appreciated there. Montreal was very good to me, » Lehkonen said, adding that the city was like a « second home. »

Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon (upper body) skated Wednesday morning but is still weeks away from returning. The Canadians were outshot 15-4 in the second period and 9-3 in the third. Center Denis Malgin, acquired from Toronto on Monday for Dryden Hunt, skated on the third line and took a dry-hit penalty in his Avalanche debut. Malgin is the NHL-high 36th player to play for Colorado this season. Avalanche coach Jared Bednar says forward Andrew Cogliano (upper body) is out until after the Christmas break.

The Canadiens will face the Stars in Dallas on Friday night while the Avalanche will face the Predators in Nashville.

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