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Canadiens: Slafkovsky, Caufield, & Suzuki Shine In Loss To Wild



Montreal Canadiens Cole Caufield Nick Suzuki

The Montreal Canadiens were looking to extend their winning streak to four games as they visited the Wild in Minnesota on Thursday night.

It was a hard-fought game that saw several momentum changes, with the Wild emerging with a 4-3 overtime win.

Let’s dive into those highlights!

Sloppy Execution

The Canadiens were skating hard in the first period but there was no semblance of cohesiveness to be found throughout the lineup. The Wild, on the other hand, were rolling from the very get-go. Minnesota created four high-danger chances, whereas the Canadiens failed to register a single quality scoring chance at 5v5.

Matt Boldy opened the scoring for the Wild shortly after David Savard was penalized for roughing midway through the first period.

Failed Challenge

Things went from bad to worse when Marco Rossi scored his 11th goal of the season less than two minutes later. Martin St-Louis also judged the play to be offside, which led to another Wild powerplay.

St-Louis is well within his rights to request a challenge, but the play was a good reminder that we can probably get rid of challenges in the NHL.

It’s hard to call hockey the fastest game on earth when it’s constantly paused to review Beta-video quality footage for evidence of a player being a quarter centimetre offside.


Bounce Back

David Savard’s second goal of the year put the Canadiens on the board eight minutes into the second period, an important step for a team that was struggling to find its rhythm.

I don’t want to take anything away from Savard’s shot, but we have to give credit to Cole Caufield for driving the net to pounce on his own rebound and then set up another good chance.

Nick Suzuki played a minor part in the play, but he had already earned the assist by being one of the lone Canadiens players who looked good all game long. It’s been a recurring theme this season, Suzuki tends to be the best player on the ice for the Habs.

Suzuki’s hard work was rewarded with his ninth goal of the year, his sixth goal on the powerplay.

Overall, the top line played quite well. They controlled almost 80 percent of the shots and expected goals while they were on the ice, but they had a hard time finishing plays at 5v5, another recurring theme. Juraj Slafkovsky does a very good job driving the net, however, he often runs out of runway, leading to good plays that don’t result in a shot.

Regardless, when a line is controlling anywhere over 60 percent of the important stats, you keep them together. Slafkovsky is learning on the job, after all.

Suzuki’s powerplay goal was just what the doctor ordered for a line that just needs to put the final touch in place to become a very potent presence for the Canadiens.


Good Game Guhle

Another important young player had a very solid game. Kaiden Guhle hasn’t had his best stretch in December. You could even argue he’s hard a really hard time. It’s often easy to forget he’s the second-youngest player in the lineup because so much rides on his performance every night.

Guhle has also increased his physical play by a few notches ever since Arber Xhekaj was re-assigned to the Laval Rocket in the AHL. Of course, you don’t want a player like Guhle fighting every night, but every once in a while he does have to let his majestic mane shine.

Full Marks Farber

It’s hard not to be impressed by Brock Faber. The 21-year-old defenceman scored the Wild’s third goal, but more importantly, he was on the ice for roughly half the game. Things did not go very well for the Habs during Farber’s shifts, owing to his active stick and impressive mobility.

Slafkovsky Again

The Canadiens did not go softly into the night.

Slafkovsky earned his third goal of the year with a little over three minutes left in the third period. It’s not the type of goal you’ll see in a highlight reel, but it was a well-deserved marker for the 19-year-old winger, who continues to improve every time he takes to the ice.

The hockey gods owe him a little luck.

The Montreal Canadiens are back in action on Friday, facing the Chicago Blackhawks. The puck drop is scheduled for 8:30 pm ET.

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