Connect with us

Canadiens Highlights

Canadiens: Suzuki And Caufield Shine In Thrilling Columbus Win



montreal canadiens nick suzuki

The Montreal Canadiens hosted Adam Fantilli and the Columbus Blue Jackets Thursday night at the Bell Centre. It was a game that featured less-than-stellar officiating, to say the least. As someone who tends to push back against blaming the referees for every team’s woes, I have to admit it was a comedy of errors by Kevin Pollock and Cody Beach.

We’ll discuss the poor officiating a little later in the article, but first, let’s take a look at how the Habs put together their 3-2 comeback win.

Stumbling Out Of The Gates

The Canadiens tend to start games with all the vigour and focus of a confused bear emerging from hibernation, and Thursday night was no exception. The Blue Jackets entered the first intermission with a 2-0 lead and were well on their way to scoring a third when Nick Suzuki decided it was time to score his first goal of the year.

Boone Jenner had the nicest assist on the play, but we also have to give credit to both Mike Matheson and Rafael Harvey-Pinard for their strong work to keep the play in the offensive zone.

I know this won’t quell all the concerns when it comes to Suzuki’s play, but we need a little more perspective when discussing his season.

It’s seven games into the season and he has six points. It’s not elite, but it’s far from alarming. His underlying numbers to start the season are also better than they have been at any time in the last three years.

The way some people discuss Suzuki you’d assume he has a foot for a hand and a pool noodle for a leg.

Granted, he does need to take more shots, but he’s never been a volume shooter. An offensive uptick would not be surprising now that he’s off the schneid.

Son Of Math

Matheson has been producing lately, but I’d argue he’s still going through his most difficult stretch since joining the Habs. He scored a nice (powerplay!) goal from the blue line to cut the Blue Jackets’ lead to 3-2, his second goal in as many games.

Thankfully, even when Matheson struggles defensively, he still has the ability to flip the script and become a game-changing presence in the lineup.

I’m probably being a little harsh when I say Matheson played poorly, but he’s still not up to his standards in terms of his overall game.

The Canadiens scored yet another power-play goal, in this economy, later in the third period.

Sean Monahan, who is quietly been the most efficient Montreal Canadiens forward this season, made a nice tip to tie the game.

I had a whole other section reserved for complaining about special teams, and the penalty kill indeed struggled, but considering how recent games have gone, two powerplay goals should be considered a gift from the hockey gods.

Winning Goal

Cole Caufield has a tendency to score when his team needs it most, and that was certainly the case against the Blue Jackets.

He scored his fourth goal of the season after a rather long shift in overtime, in which the Habs had already generated half a dozen quality scoring chances.

The game itself wasn’t pretty, but how the Canadiens won surely was.

Xhekaj Board

I rarely blame referees. In general, I find their mistakes are spread fairly evenly every game, and it’s a legitimately difficult game to officiate, but Thursday’s game wasn’t just a difficult showing for the referees.

It all started with a brutal board by Jacket rookie Dmitri Voronkov, who was looking to make an impression in his first career NHL game.

The referees judged it was only worthy of a two-minute minor, which is questionable in the first place, but they also proceeded to give Arber Xhekaj an additional roughing call on top of the five-minute major for fighting.

I’ve been watching hockey for well over three decades, and I can’t remember ever seeing someone receive a roughing penalty in addition to a fighting penalty.

Simply put, the referees placed a very cheap price tag on a very dangerous play, which set the tone for the rest of the shenanigans throughout the game.

The Blue Jackets cashed in their coupons once again, shortly thereafter. This time around, it was Cole Sillinger who delivered the board. Alex Newhook was thankfully no worse for wear.

Tanner Pearson was also given a penalty on the play, which is fair, but once again a dangerous board resulted in even-strength play, which is the opposite of trying to protect players.

On top of letting the game get out of hand early, the referees also punished Justin Barron for being near Adam Fantilli when he stepped on the puck.

They then decided a blatant headshot was only worthy of a two-minute minor. You’ll note it was Vornokov who delivered the hit to Harris’ head. And I can’t blame him. The referees had already set a low price on dangerous plays, so why not take advantage of the sale?

Fantilli got into the action in the third period, hitting Mike Matheson with a fairly sketchy pick. This time around, it did lead to a power play for the Habs. Considering their history, the Canadiens were more than lucky to emerge from the game without a serious injury.

The Montreal Canadiens are back in action on Saturday when they’ll host the Winnipeg Jets at the Bell Centre. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.

All Montreal Canadiens Statistics Are 5v5 unless otherwise noted. Via Natural Stat Trick.