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Canadiens Postgame

Canadiens Guhle, Slafkovsky, And Allen Shine In OT Loss

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montreal canadiens kaiden guhle

The Montreal Canadiens were in Pittsburgh on Saturday night to face the Penguins, their last game before the NHL All-Star break.

The game was former Habs forward Lars Eller’s 1000th in the NHL, which necessitated a pre-game ceremony to celebrate his accomplishment.

It was a tightly contested game, but the Penguins eventually emerged with a 3-2 overtime win.

Let’s take a look at those highlights!

Back End Production

As has been the case throughout the season, the Canadiens relied on their defencemen to contribute important offensive plays. This time around Mike Matheson set up Kaiden Guhle with a perfect pass, leading to the Habs’ 10,000th goal in franchise history on the road.

For the record, the Canadiens scored their 10,000th home goal over 20 years ago when Doug Gilmour and Yannic Perreault set up Sergei Berezin in 2002.

As for the goal, Guhle is tasked with watching some of the top players during his shifts, including Sidney Crosby. It would be unreasonable to expect him also to score goals during those difficult assignments, but it is a nice surprise when it happens.

Forward Cole Caufield assisted on the play with a smart, controlled zone entry. He’s currently one of the hottest players in the NHL, as evidenced by his nine-game point streak.

 

But as previously mentioned, Guhle’s most important task involves watching superstars like a hawk. Even though he’s less than two seasons into his NHL career, it’s fair to say the 22-year-old defenceman has done a great job given the difficulty involved in the challenge.

His hard work versus Crosby was on full display on Saturday night.

It should also be noted that goaltender Jake Allen did his part, shutting down eight high-danger chances at 5v5 in the first period.

Man Of The Night

The Canadiens knew it was coming. The Penguins knew it was coming. And you knew it was coming.

Eller opened the scoring for the Penguins early in the second period, a consequence of the Canadiens failing to build any moment after the first intermission.

It was a nice moment, however, it’s also fair to say Eller got a little lucky after a pass intended to reach his linemate landed directly on his blade.

Fortunately for the Canadiens, they quickly responded thanks to some very encouraging puck movement on the powerplay, one of their greatest weaknesses this season.

Full marks to Juraj Slafkovsky for scoring his seventh goal of the year, but it must be said that Nick Suzuki and Sean Monahan’s playmaking played a big part in the lead-up to the go-ahead goal.

Monahan continues to improve his value on the NHL’s trade market ahead of the March 8 deadline, which is always good news for a team amid a rebuild.

In the meantime, he’s creating fantastic chemistry with Slafkovsky on the second line, helping the youngest player in the lineup gain important confidence. It was evident all night against the Penguins.

Underappreciated Value

The Canadiens did a much better job controlling the flow of the play in the second period. They only allowed the Penguins to take three high-danger chances at 5v5, limiting much of the potential damage from the potent Pittsburgh forward lineup.

When they did make it to quality scoring areas Allen held the fort. He may not be the favourite goalie in Montreal anymore, but Allen’s numbers don’t lie.

He’s been good this year, ranking among the top 15 goaltenders in the NHL for goals saved above expected.

In total, Allen was forced to make over 17 high-danger saves, a very busy night for an underappreciated goaltender.

Inevitable

The issue with trying to shut down a player like Crosby is that it’s not possible. At best, you can mitigate the scoring chances, but in hockey, pure talent tends to rise to the top.

That was the case in the third period when Crosby, who was covered quite closely by Guhle, delivered a jaw-dropping pass to Jake Guentzel. The game-tying goal was a thing of beauty and a good reminder that Crosby is far from done terrorizing defencemen in the NHL.

The goal allowed the Penguins to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in overtime when Marcus Pettersson beat Allen during an odd-man rush.

 

The Montreal Canadiens will be back in action on February 6. They will face the Capitals in Washington. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm ET.


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

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Alex

Slaf is such a Stud. Looking like the good pick! He’s going to be a monster in few seasons.