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Montreal Canadiens

Suzuki, Caufield and Dvorak Shine In 7-4 Win Over Blues



Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens found their scoring rhythm on Saturday night, defeating the St-Louis Blues 7-4 in a defence-optional game that involved a bevy of scoring chances and several crucial breakthroughs for the visiting team.

Most notably, the Canadiens managed to score not one, but two power-play goals, the first time in the season they’ve scored a power-play goal during the first three periods of the game. Powered by Christian Dvorak’s hat trick performance, they also received a healthy amount of secondary scoring.

Good Things Will Happen

Sometimes it will take a sequence of brilliant hockey just to manage a shot on the net, other times, a quick flick from the point will lead to prime scoring chances, as was the case when Jordan Harris set up Nick Suzuki for his fourth goal of the season.

Harris no longer leads the Canadiens in terms of 5v5 shots on net, Cole Caufield finally surpassed him, but he’s quickly emerging as the best player on the blueline when it comes to directing rubber toward the opposing goaltender.

Suzuki has scored all his goals during even-strength play, which isn’t particularly surprising given the Montreal Canadiens struggled to find the back of the net on the man advantage before their matchup against the Blues.

Neutral Zone Maestro

Suzuki had more to say on Saturday night. He picked up his second point of the night on Cole Caufield’s sixth goal of the season, but it was his play before entering the offensive zone that deserves the most praise.

Not only did Suzuki slow the play down enough to allow his linemates to catch up and disrupt the timing of opposing defenders, but he also followed up the play by driving the net, which is what ultimately led to Caufield’s easy goal.

It was also Caufield’s second point of the night, but much like Suzuki, he wasn’t done there. More on that a little later.

Welcome Back

It was a successful return to the lineup for first-overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky, and not just because he scored his second career goal in the NHL, but that was certainly a high point.

Slafkovsky started the game with several strong shifts, indicating his injury did not hinder his overall level of play and he was champing at the bit to get back into the lineup.

The goal itself came on Slafkovsky’s first legitimate shift on the power play, which was a sight for sore eyes when you consider the Canadiens had struggled to score with the man advantage up to that point.

It goes to show talent trumps experience when you have time and space to set up a play.

Power Surge

It’s one thing to make a great cross-ice pass to set up a player for a perfect one-timer opportunity, but it’s another thing to do it when absolutely everyone on the ice, including your opponents, knows exactly what you’re planning to do.

But Suzuki and Caufield’s chemistry has grown to the point that even if their favourite scoring play is easy to anticipate, it’s rather difficult to prevent.

The goal was the Canadiens’ second power-play goal of the night, a much-needed influx of offence for a team that was struggling to create chances on the man advantage.

Secondary Scoring

Christian Dvorak has had a difficult start to the season. Not only have his underlying numbers collapsed completely, but his name has also rarely graced the scoresheet.

But Dvorak flipped the script on Saturday night. Not only did he score three goals, including a great tip to put the Canadiens ahead by three goals, but his line also finished the game on the right side of most possession metrics.

Producing solid underlying numbers isn’t as exciting as scoring a hat trick, but it is more important in the long run, both for Dvorak and the Montreal Canadiens.

The Canadiens are back in action next week, facing the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday night.

(All statistics are 5v5 unless otherwise noted, via NaturalStatTrick)

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