MONTREAL | Cayden Primeau looked at home on the Bell Centre ice.
The Canadiens goalie stopped 32 shots in his NHL debut, coming up just short in a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night.
The 20-year-old son of former NHL player Keith Primeau did his part to keep a struggling Montreal squad in the game against the league’s top-ranked offense.
“It was fun. There are so many words to describe it,” said Primeau, who was recalled from the AHL’s Laval Rocket this week. “It’s good to get the first one under the belt, at this level and at regular-season pace. “I tried to give the team the best opportunity to win. You definitely have to step up your game when you’re facing guys at this level.”
The young goaltender was playing the first of a back-to-back, with Carey Price set to face the New York Rangers Friday night. Montreal has lost nine of 10 to fall to 12-11-6.
Primeau, the 199th overall draft pick in 2017, came into the encounter with very little professional hockey experience — 12 games with Laval. With his parents watching from the stands, he quickly settled in after a slightly shaky first period.
“He was excellent,” forward Nick Cousins said about Primeau. “For his first game, he didn’t really show any nerves. That team over there is pretty deep, good off the rush, good on the power play. He held his own and gave us a chance to win.”
Gabriel Landeskog scored in his return from a lower-body injury. Ryan Graves and Matt Calvert also scored and backup goalie Pavel Francouz made 39 saves to help the Avalanche win their fifth straight game and improve to 18-8-2.
“I liked what we did. We put ourselves in a position to win,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said. “We got some saves when we needed them. It was a good all-around effort by our team, especially on the road.”
Brendan Gallagher and Cousins scored for Montreal.
Graves opened the scoring at 6:13 of the first period, beating Primeau on a rebound.
Another rush down the right wing led to Colorado’s second goal, this time by Landeskog. The Avalanche captain, back in the lineup after missing 16 games, blew past Jeff Petry and beat Primeau blocker side at 12:57.
Calvert made it 3-0 with a short-handed goal at 8:06 of the second.
Gallagher got the Canadiens on the board late in the second, and Cousins scored on a power play early in the third.
NOTES: The Canadiens were down a forward 90 seconds into the game when Jesperi Kotkaniemi fell awkwardly in the corner on a hit by Nikita Zadorov. The 19-year-old centre did not return. … Canadiens defenseman Otto Leskinen made his NHL debut. … Avs winger Andre Burakovsky (upper-body injury) returned to the lineup after missing three games. Nazem Kadri (lower-body injury) did not play.
Avalanche: At Boston on Saturday night.
Canadiens: At New York Rangers on Friday night.