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Canadiens pour it on in the third to post 3-0 win over Avalanche

Canadiens pour it on in the third to post 3-0 win over Avalanche
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Carl Soderberg of the Colorado Avalanche, left, and Canadiens Jonathan Drouin skate after the puck at the Bell Centre on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019, in Montreal. Minas Panagiotakis / Getty Images

It’s not every day your mascot turns 40 and the Canadiens helped Youppi! celebrate with a 3-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday at the Bell Centre.

Youppi!’s birthday was the most exciting part of an evening that was entertaining if you enjoy superb goaltending, but was otherwise marked by missed opportunities until the Canadiens broke through with two goals in the middle of the third period.

Phillip Danault got things started when he won a faceoff in the Colorado zone and guided the puck to Brett Kulak , who scored a shorthanded goal from the point at 8:22.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi made it 2-0 when he scored on a feed from Jonathan Drouin at 10:39. It was the rookie’s fifth goal of the season. Jordie Benn completed the scoring with an empty-net goal.

A collection of mascots from other cities gathered to celebrate with the lovable mass of moth bait while others sent their greetings to be displayed on the scoreboard screen. It was good fun and served as a distraction from the action on the ice.

Carey Price signalled this was going to be one of his good nights when he made a glove save early in the game. He made 28 stops for his third shutout of the season.

Coach Claude Julien juggled his top three lines in an attempt to coax some offence from his team, but the new combinations proved as ineffective as the old ones.

The big move was to separate Max Domi and Drouin, who have been the team’s top scorers since the beginning of the season. Domi, who was between Finns Joel Armia and Artturi Lehkonen, failed to score for the 16th consecutive game.

Drouin was on left wing on a line with Danault and, while it seemed he played with more energy than he has in recent  games, he didn’t get on the scoresheet until he picked up the assist on Kotkaniemi’s goal.

Kotkaniemi was given some offensive help in Tomas Tatar and Paul Byron, but it didn’t produce any tangible results.

Neither team was able to score in the first period and the Canadiens did a good job of limiting the chances for the high-scoring duo of Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. They failed to get a shot on goal, although Rantanen had one shot blocked.

Montreal had a 9-7 edge on the shot clock, but once again failed to deliver on the power play. The Canadiens had two opportunities and managed three shots on goal, but they also gave up two shorthanded chances.

It was more of the same in the second period with the Avalanche holding a 13-10 edge in shots. Price came up big with saves on Tyson Jost and Alexander Kerfoot during a Colorado power play.

The Canadiens’ power play continued to be the worst in the NHL and they went 0-for-3 against Colorado, although Shea Weber hit a post for the second consecutive game. The Canadiens are 0-for-26 on the power play in their last nine home games.

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