In the words of Etta James, ‘At laaaaast!’ the losing streak is finally over for the Montreal Canadiens!
After going 0-8-2 and not winning a game since a 5-3 win on Jan. 18, the Canadiens’ hard work and positive attitude since Martin St. Louis paid off Thursday night. Cole Caufield scored the game-tying goal with 8.6 seconds left in regulation and then lit the lamp again 2:22 into overtime to give the Canadiens a 3-2 win and stop the ten-game winless streak with authority.
There was no building shaking from an always boisterous crowd at the Bell Centre thanks to COVID restrictions still being in effect but still, the sense of relief permeated from the Habs celebrating as if they had won a playoff series after tasting victory for the first time in hours short of a month. That celebration carried over into the dressing room and was clear on the faces of Montreal Canadiens players in their postgame Zoom availability with the media.
“It was a good feeling just coming back into the locker room and hearing music,” a smiling Canadiens forward Josh Anderson told reporters.
In his 500th game, Montreal Canadiens forward Paul Byron scored the first goal for the Canadiens 7:16 into the first period. Jeff Petry had two assists, including the sole helper on the Caufield winner and Samuel Montembeault stopped 26 Blues shots.
Pavel Buchnevich had a goal and an assist for the Blues and Rober Thomas lit the lamp as well. Ville Husso made 27 saves on 30 shots from the Habs.
For the first time in just over two hours short of a month, here’s your MHN Postgame Poutine after a win for the Montreal Canadiens:
GOLD STAR: Cole Caufield – Since Martin St. Louis was hired as the new interim head coach of the Montreal Canadiens just over a week ago, Caufield has caught fire and played like the sniper he resembled late in the 2021 regular season and in the Habs’ Stanley Cup Playoffs run. Caufield has scored in three of the four games since St. Louis took over and has four goals during that span. Caufield had just one goal prior to St. Louis coming on board. Caufield also seems to have a knack for dramatic goals as well and that was the case again Thursday.
Cole Caufield marque le but gagnant en prolongation!
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) February 18, 2022
TABARNAK: Powerplay – The Montreal Canadiens may have been able to avoid having to stage a dramatic comeback in the last 1:19 of regulation and overtime if they found a way to get their powerplay going. The Habs were 0-for-5 and had two chances to break the 1-1 deadlock on the mid-advantage with back-to-back powerplays midway through the third period. There has been steady improvement overall under St. Louis but the powerplay has still struggled and is 1-for-14 in his four games behind the bench.
TURNING POINT: Canadiens Timeout: Immediately after Buchnevich gave the Blues the lead with 1:19 left, St. Louis could be seen huddling with his staff and then immediately signaled for a timeout. The Montreal Canadiens could be forgiven if they had their heads down after allowing what they thought would be the goal that extended their losing streak to eleven games but the new Habs coach wasn’t letting that happen. Whatever he said worked because the Habs came flying off the next faceoff, pressured, and finally tied it on Caufield’s first. The enthusiasm and good vibes continue to be noticeable since St. Louis was hired.
HONORABLE MENTION: Paul Byron – Paul Byron is just one of those feel-good stories any sports reporter loves to write about and can’t help but let the fan in him or her take over. Left on the waiver wire by the Calgary Flames back on October 6, Byron was claimed by the Montreal Canadiens and over six years later, after becoming a mainstay for the Habs, Byron played in his 500th game. So it was fitting that Byron gave the Canadiens an early 1-0 lead 7:13 into regulation. Byron finished with a goal, one shot, and three hits in 15:10. While one could argue there were more deserving players for our Honorable Mention, such as Montembeault or Petry or Buchnevich but this was Paul’s night and he earned it.
The Bell Centre might not be packed with 20k fans, but two of Paul Byron's biggest fans got to see him play at least! pic.twitter.com/yJCdV7yL9n
— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) February 18, 2022
BY THE NUMBERS: Here’s how the Montreal Canadiens lined up Thursday night:
Cole Caufield-Nick Suzuki-Josh Anderson
Mike Hoffman – Laurent Dauphin – Brendan Gallagher
Rem Pitlick – Jake Evans- Paul Byron
Artturi Lehkonen – Ryan Poehling – Joel Armia
Brett Kulak-Jeff Petry
Corey Schueneman – Alexander Romanov
Kale Clague-Chris Wideman
QUOTE TO NOTE: “I’m happier for my dad than I am for me. He was pretty stressed I hadn’t won yet, but I told him to chill and that it was coming.” – Marty St. Louis on how it felt to get his first win as head coach of the Montreal Canadiens and as an NHL coach.