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Canadiens Postgame

Slafkovsky Sets Canadiens Record In Losing Cause Vs. Rangers



Montreal Canadiens Nick Suzuki Cole Caufield Juraj Slafkovsky

The Montreal Canadiens made a quick trip to New York to face the Rangers on Thursday night, hoping to build upon the momentum they created in their previous outing, a dominant 5-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks.

The Habs started the game in style, but the Rangers’ talent eventually took over, leading to a 7-4 win for the home team. The Canadiens did not play particularly poorly, as they held a healthy share of the expected goals, but it was not enough to stop a Cup-contending team like the Rangers

On the bright side, the top line was once again excellent. Juraj Slafkovsky scored a nice goal to push his scoring streak to seven games. The play set a franchise record, as well. More on that later.

Let’s check out those highlights!

Great Road Period

The Canadiens don’t always start games on the right foot, but they flew out of the gates on Thursday by controlling the pace of the play and consequently the high-danger scoring chances.

And it wasn’t just a matter of the first line dragging the rest of the team behind them, either.

The fourth line of Michael Pezzetta, Brandon Gignac, and Brendan Gallagher did a great job pressuring the Rangers with a heavy forecheck. It almost led to the game’s opening goal, but Gignac deflected a Jayden Struble point shot with a very high stick before he scored and thus the goal was called back.

The Habs also did a very good job clogging the neutral zone, which didn’t allow the home team to build up any speed in transition. It was one of the rare periods this season in which the Montreal Canadiens did an excellent job of making life a little easier on their goaltender.

The hard work paid off late in the third period when Jake Evans took advantage of a rebound and scored his fourth goal of the year, his second in as many games.

You’ll note that Josh Anderson didn’t overthink the play, he simply turned and quickly fired a puck on net, which led to the second-chance scoring opportunity for Evans. Oftentimes, simplifying things can get players back on track when they’re struggling to find their rhythm.

There was some unfortunate news from a health standpoint when Blake Wheeler had to leave the game after suffering what looked like a fairly painful knee injury.

Jayden Struble did a good job eliminating Wheeler as a scoring threat with a clean play, but it also led to an awkward fall for the Rangers forward. Wheeler attempted to stand up on his own, but his leg buckled and he needed assistance to leave the ice.

Insult To Injury

It also appeared that Kaiden Guhle was injured after Jacob Trouba tripped and accidentally rhino speared him in the Canadiens’ defensive zone.

It’s the type of play that can bruise ribs and leave someone out of breath, but the good news is that Guhle managed to stay in the game.

The Rangers took the lead shortly afterward when a Chris Kreider change-up led to a confusing angle that Samuel Montembeault could not anticipate.

Montembeault has been one of the team’s best players on most nights, and it would be difficult to ask more from him given his current contract, but we did not see him at his best versus the Rangers.

The momentum was firmly in the Rangers’ corner when they scored their third goal of the game moments later. The Canadiens coaching staff decided to challenge the goal, a rather questionable decision given there was little to no interference to be seen.

The challenge failed, putting the Rangers back on the powerplay, and giving Kreider the chance to score his second goal of the game. It was the home team’s fourth goal in as many minutes.

The Rangers are a very good team, and it’s not realistic to expect the Habs to match their talent, but David Savard could have done a better job tying up Kreider’s stick.



The second period was a disaster from a scoreline point of view, but it did include a very nice goal by the youngest player in the lineup, Juraj Slafkovsky.

Cole Caufield’s anticipation played a big part, as it allowed him to intercept the breakout pass and feed Slafkovsky in the slot. You’ll note Slafkovsky did not hesitate to take the shot, a very encouraging sign for a player who often deferred to his linemates in high-danger scoring areas.

The goal also pushed Slafkovsky’s point streak to seven games, the longest-scoring streak in franchise history by a teenager.

The game seemed to be within reach when Caufield scored his 18th goal of the season after deflecting a Mike Matheson point shot.

The puck actually banked off the backboards and hit Jonathan Quick before going in, but we do have to give credit to Caufield for heading to a dirty area on the ice and getting a stick on the original shot.

It’s always a good idea to head to the paint when you’re in search of a goal, as Kreider did when he scored his hat-trick goal to secure the win for the Rangers.

Caufield found the back of the net for a second time with a little less than 10 minutes left in the third period. Once again, Slafkovsky played a crucial part in the goal-scoring play by creating time and space for his smaller linemate.

He’s using his 6’3 frame with perfection in recent games, taking advantage of his albatross-like wing span to win important puck battles.

It was too little, too late, but given the Habs aren’t in the playoff race, losing a game while the top line continues to evolve into a dominant presence is hardly the worst possible outcome. I didn’t mention captain Nick Suzuki in the recap but be assured he played yet another great game.

We’re seeing Suzuki evolve into a player who faces the opposing team’s best players every night, doing so while maintaining excellent defensive play and impressive production.

Some may argue Suzuki is not a No.1 centre, and that’s fine.

Everyone is allowed to be wrong once in a while.


The Montreal Canadiens will be back in action on Saturday. They will host the Washington Capitals at the Bell Centre. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm ET.

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