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Canadiens Highlights

Canadiens Xhekaj Injured, Ylonen Scores Twice In Loss To Vegas



Montreal Canadiens vs Vegas golden knights Karl Tremblay

The Montreal Canadiens hosted the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night at the Bell Centre.

The team held a nice, simple ceremony to honour Karl Tremblay, the lead singer of the incredibly popular French-Canadian band Les Cowboys Fringants. Tremblay passed away on Wednesday due to prostate cancer. A lifelong hockey fan, Tremblay would have surely appreciated the moment.

The game marked the return of former Habs bench boss Dominque Ducharme, who now serves as an assistant coach for the Golden Knights.

It was a defence-optional game, one that led to the Golden Knights emerging with a 6-5 win. The scoreline was rather flattering for the Habs, who allowed the Golden Knights to take an endless stream of quality shots.

Don’t forget to join me over at Game Over: Montreal, for a fun chat with a great community of Habs fans following the game. Here’s the link to join the show.

Primeau Starts Strong

The youngest Canadiens goaltender was tested often and early, but he stood tall, even as the Golden Knights spent the vast majority of the first period in his zone.

William Karlsson had several quality chances from high-danger areas, but Primeau used strong lateral movement to shut him down.

On top of making several great saves early in the game, Primeau simply looked better than most of his outings. He was calm, tracked the puck quite well, and was rarely out of position.

He was impressive, especially when we consider the Golden Knights took 11 high-danger shots at 5v5 in the first period.

It’s much too early to declare Primeau a legitimate NHL goalie, but if his body language is any indication, he’s dialled in at the moment.

As an aside, we should probably note that several scouts were in attendance on Thursday night.

Of course, that doesn’t mean a trade is imminent, but if some general managers are curious about Primeau’s potential, his play in the first period should be enough to convince teams that there’s still untapped value to be found.

Slow Start

It wasn’t a banner start by the Habs. Vegas took the first eight shots of the game, but thanks to some smart work by captain Nick Suzuki behind the net, as well as a perfect shot by Alex Newhook, the Canadiens ended up scoring on their first shot.

The goal, which was rather nice, put an end to a 13-game scoreless streak by Newhook.

Newhook and Suzuki registered their name on the scoresheet for a second time shortly afterward. It wasn’t an ideal play by any means, but hey, they don’t ask how, they just ask how many.

Johnathan Kovacevic decided to pinch at the ideal time and took advantage of some sloppy defensive play by the Golden Knights. It was Kovacevic’s first goal of the season, and if we’re being honest, the Canadiens were incredibly lucky to enter the intermission with a 2-0 lead.


Push Back

Once the Golden Knights scored their first goal of the game, a shorthanded goal that took place after Mike Matheson shot the puck 12 feet wide, the Canadiens responded in style.

To be more accurate, Jesse Ylonen took matters into his own hands, stripping the puck from two well-established veterans, Alec Martinez and Alex Pietrangelo.

He then put his silky mitts on full display during his breakaway opportunity.

This is the type of play Ylonen needs to make with more regularity if he’s to etch out a permanent spot in the Canadiens lineup.

Ylonen kept the good times going in the second period by scoring his second goal of the game. It took place after a very efficient forecheck by Michael Pezzetta, who has looked quite good in his limited usage for the Habs this season.

He also set up Ylonen’s scoring chance with a very nice no-look pass.

Vegas Is Money

Primeau did not look as good in the second period, though you’d be hard-pressed to argue he’s the reason the Golden Knights scored four times.

He could have looked a little better on two of the goals, but overall, the chances were of the high-quality variety or came after a crazy deflection.

In total Primeau faced 18 high-danger chances at 5v5 from the Golden Knights, and surprisingly, it was Kaiden Guhle who probably had the most difficult game on the blueline for the Habs. Even though he plays like a 10-year veteran, it’s important to remember Guhle will have more games like these. He’s just 21 years old.


Xhekaj Down

There was some unfortunate news from an injury standpoint. Defenceman Arber Xhekaj took a big spill after being hit by Ivan Barbashev. Xhekaj had been stuck on the ice for a couple of minutes and did not anticipate Barbashev would hit him with so much power.

Once his shift mercifully ended, Xhekaj retreated to the locker room. The Canadiens then announced that Xhekaj would not return to the game.

At the very least, it should be noted that Xhekaj was favouring his left shoulder, and not the right shoulder which led to a season-ending surgery last season.

Bad Timing

The Montreal Canadiens had poor discipline all game (surprise!), but this play by Brendan Gallagher with three minutes left in the third period took the cake.

He’s a little lucky he only got a double minor for high-sticking because he also managed to trip and hook Pavel Dorofeyev during the same play.

Jack Eichel scored the game-winning goal during the ensuing powerplay for the Golden Knights.

Bonus Goal

It was too little, too late, but Justin Barron cut the Vegas lead to 6-5 with less than a minute left in the third period. Cole Caufield’s slick playmaking served as the catalyst for the scoring play.

The Montreal Canadiens are back in action on Saturday. They’ll put an end to their long homestand by visiting the Bruins in Boston. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm ET.

All Montreal Canadiens statistics are 5v5 unless otherwise noted. Via Natural Stat Trick.

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Ylönen could have had a hat-trick if he would have just ripped it into a wide open net, rather than trying to pass it to Evans for a tip in. Bummer. Glad to see him play a great game though.


Vegas should have scored more than 10 goals if not for Primeau, you singled out
Guhle but in my opinion Kovacevic may have scored a goal but he turns over the puck behind the net, in the corner, along the boards and is positioning now is reminding me of Karl Alzner. I sure hope Reinbacher will be a Hab next year to take his place, because his play now is not NHL calibre.