Vanek, Canadiens topple Avalanche 6-3

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MONTREAL (AP) - Thomas Vanek found a way to take the spotlight away from Patrick Roy’s return to Montreal as head coach of the Colorado Avalanche.

Thomas had a hat trick in Colorado’s 6-3 victory over the Canadiens on Tuesday night.

It was a game that had the 21,273 in the Bell Centre seats rocking even before the puck was dropped.

Travis Moen also scored a spin-around goal worthy of a first-line forward.

And the game had a spectacular performance from Colorado rookie Nathan MacKinnon, who dazzled the crowd and the Canadiens defense for an entire shift before scoring his 23rd goal of the season in the first period.

Colorado defenseman John Mitchell was taken to a hospital for tests after crashing back-first into the end boards at 8:02 of the second period. Roy had no update on his condition after the game other than that it was a back injury.

The game started with the spotlight on Roy, but players from both teams made sure it was game to remember as well.

“I thought both teams played really well and tonight the puck bounced their way,” said Roy, the former Canadiens goaltending great who was on his first trip to Montreal as an NHL coach.

There was no pregame ceremony for the player once known as Saint Patrick, but he didn’t need one. The fans gave him a long, rousing ovation when he was shown on the scoreboard during the national anthems.

Some wondered how the Bell Centre crowd would react to Roy, who won Stanley Cups for the Canadiens in 1986 and 1993 but later demanded a trade and was on the outs with the organization until 2008 when they retired his No. 33 jersey.

“I thought they showed lot of class,” Roy said.” It was nice. They didn’t make a big thing and that’s the way I wanted it.”

Brandon Prust, who left the game late in the first period with an apparent shoulder injury, returned to score a goal and set up Moen’s tally for Montreal, which won its third game in a row.

Trailing by two goals, Roy pulled goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere with 2:20 left to play, but Dale Weise scored into the empty net.

Max Talbot and Jamie McGinn also had goals for the Avalanche, who lost for only the third time in 10 games. The Avs end a three-game road trip Wednesday night in Winnipeg.

Vanek has had several scoring chances since he was acquired from the New York Islanders, who had got him early in the season from the Buffalo Sabres. He broke through against Colorado.

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