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“It was frustrating,” he said. “I think I’m pretty emotional out there and sometimes I show my frustration too much.

“But it’s been a tough year moving around, trying to get your first goal with Buffalo and then a new team and then here. But I thought we were generating chances and it just didn’t go in. Getting that first goal was nice. I was really pressing the last few games.”

The Avalanche players wanted to win for Roy, who has taken them from last to fourth in the Western Conference in one season and who could be the NHL’s coach of the year.

Roy’s team responded with a strong opening period.

No. 1 overall draft pick MacKinnon put on a show as he ragged the puck in the Montreal zone for most of an entire shift. Then he got the puck alone in front of the net off a strange deflection and deked Carey Price at 18:03.

He got 20:55 of ice time and, other than Vanek, was perhaps the best player in the game.

Even Montreal coach Michel Therrien was impressed.

“For an 18-year-old kid. … I had the luxury of coaching great ones at 18 and 19 years old (Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin) and he’s right there,” Therrien said. “He’s a special player.”

Roy knew his players wanted to get him the victory, even though he told them to concentrate on getting the two points.

“(Ryan) O’Reilly was hurt and I knew he wanted to play,” Roy said. “(Paul) Stastny came back (from a back injury) tonight.

“I knew what they were doing. I have a lot of respect for my players and I appreciate it, but I didn’t want them to feel the pressure of winning a game for their coach. I wanted them to win for the team. I don’t want to put myself ahead of the team. I didn’t need a special night.”

The Canadiens bounced back in the second, as Vanek tapped one into an open goal after David Desharnais lured Giguere out of his net on a rush at 7:44.

Talbot was parked at the doorstep to knock in a Matt Duchene pass at 9:33, but Moen tied the score at 10:21 with his second of the season and his first since Nov. 22. Prust dove to chip the puck into the middle, where Moen caught it, then did a spin-around move to beat Giguere with a backhand.

Giguere took a holding the stick penalty and Vanek made him pay as he converted a Max Pacioretty pass on a power play for the game-winner at 14:45. Montreal was on the power play again when Vanek reached behind his back to deflect an Alexei Emelin shot in at 17:40 for the hat trick.

Weise added an empty-netter at 19:00, giving each member of the checking line a goal.

Story Continues →