MONTREAL — At least one fan has seemingly had enough of the Montreal Canadiens' struggles this season.
A Habs jersey was thrown onto the ice at Bell Centre in the third period of Montreal's 4-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night by a spectator apparently tired of the Canadiens' losing ways.
“I saw it, it’s not a good feeling for the players,” said forward Nick Suzuki, who wears No. 14. “I think it was one of my jerseys so, I don’t know if it was, but I thought I saw a four."
With the loss, Montreal (6-17-2) entered its sixth losing streak of the 2021-22 season. The Canadiens fired general manager Marc Bergevin on Sunday but have lost two games since.
"It’s tough to get booed but the fans want to see wins, they’re used to productive teams and we’re not doing that right now," said Suzuki. "I can definitely see why they’re getting angry.”
Ben Chiarot had the lone goal for Montreal. Goaltender Jake Allen blocked 30 of the 33 shots sent his way.
The Habs were dealt yet another set of blows before Thursday's game when head coach Dominique Ducharme confirmed that forward Brendan Gallagher and defenceman Sami Niku tested positive for COVID-19, ruling them out for at least 10 days. Ducharme added that Josh Anderson will be out for two to four weeks with an upper body injury.
Jeff Gorton, Bergevin's replacement, attended his first game as the Canadiens vice president of hockey operations. He is scheduled to hold a news conference on Friday morning.
“Yes, he was there and he wants us to stay positive and look at going back to work tomorrow and sticking with it,” Ducharme said.
Colorado showed some grit after a lopsided 8-3 loss in Toronto on Wednesday night. Because starting goaltender Darcy Kuemper is out with an upper-body injury the Avalanche (12-7-1) had Jonas Johansson in net on back-to-back nights..
On the plane to Montreal, head coach Jared Bednar asked Johansson if he was good to go for both games and they decided he would get his chance to shake off the loss. After allowing all eight goals the night before, Johansson made 19 saves and only allowed one goal to seal the win.
“I was really proud of him.” Bednar said. “As a young goalie, generally we wouldn’t play our guy back-to-back but in this case he hasn’t played a lot of hockey and I wanted to see what he was made of tonight because last night was a tough night for him and for the team.
“He’s been working hard with us for months now and he’s only played a handful of games and this is an opportunity now for him to string some games together.”
The 26 year-old Swede wanted to get Wednesday night behind him and was thrilled to pick up the win in Montreal.
“It feels really good. Last night was last night, I don’t think anyone was happy with that game including me,” Johansson said. “It’s really nice to come back and get two points tonight and take it from there.”
Valeri Nichushkin scored and added an assist. Cale Makar had the eventual winner late in the second period as Colorado redeemed themselves in the second of a three-game Canadian road trip. The Avs will meet with the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.
“I think our team is really understanding of what we have to do on both sides of the puck in hockey games,” Bednar said. And I think last night was a real example. In Toronto, we came out and they were more determined, they checked harder than we checked.”
Andre Burkovsky also scored and Gabriel Landeskog put the puck into an empty net. Nazem Kadri had an assist for his 11th point in as many games.
Colorado opened the scoring with a short-handed goal in the second period. Loan O’Connor passed to a wide open Nichushkin in front of the net.
Chiarot levelled the score for Montreal with his fifth goal of the season. His slap shot from the point deflected off an Avalanche player and ringed off the post before beating Johansson.
The Avs regained the lead late in the second when Makar deflected Samuel Girard’s shot from the blue line. Makar picked up his 10th goal of the season.
Burakovsky gave Colorado a 3-1 advantage in the third period by tapping in a loose puck in front of the net.
Landeskog added the empty-netter with 2:49 left in the third period, adding some insurance to the Avalanche win.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2021
Tristan D’Amours, The Canadian Press