Connect with us

Canadiens Postgame

Canadiens Suzuki Secures Win In Exciting Game Versus Nashville



montreal canadiens nashville predators

The Montreal Canadiens were in Nashville on Tuesday to face the red-hot Predators.

Heading into the game there was concern forward Juraj Slafkovsky would not be able to take to the ice, as he was nursing a minor injury. If Slafkovsky was unavailable, forward Rafael Harvey-Pinard was expected to fill the gap in the lineup after recovering from yet another lower-body injury.

It turns out that Slafkovksy was cleared to play, but newcomer Colin White was not, which meant that Harvey-Pinard slotted into the fourth-line centre role.

Jayden Struble also returned to the lineup and was added to the third pairing alongside Jordan Harris, who is in the midst of one of his best stretches since he joined the NHL.

It was another tightly-contested game in which the Canadiens can be proud of their effort. The 4-3 overtime win may not help their lottery odds, but it will surely improve the locker room morale.

Nick Suzuki ended up scoring the game-winning goal to end Nashville’s eight-game winning streak, but he was helped along by some solid performances by other important players in the lineup.

Let’s dive into those highlights!

Home Team Momentum

The Predators were buzzing in the first period, as evidenced by the many high-danger saves goaltender Jake Allen was forced to make. It was one of his better first periods of the season, despite allowing Filip Forsberg to open the scoring for the Predators with less than 5 minutes left in the frame.

Seeing as many teams are reportedly still interested in improving their goaltending depth, a strong outing from Allen would surely do wonders for his perceived value on the trade market.

It should also be noted the reason behind Nashville’s recent surge in the standings was rather evident in the first period against the Canadiens. They outwork their opponents during every single shift, producing the type of efficient forecheck that quickly gives them an advantage in the battle of attrition.

Southpaw Advantage

With the Canadiens struggling to maintain any semblance of momentum, forward Josh Anderson decided to drop the gloves with defenceman Luke Schenn. Schenn is a very tough customer, and to make matters worse, it appears Anderson was not aware he’s a southpaw, which allowed Schenn to feed Anderson with a steady stream of left hooks

The result was an easy, one-sided win for the 34-year-old blueliner.

Anderson is probably feeling pressure to contribute in some manner, and since his goal-scoring has dried up this season, he’s taking different avenues to provide value. It’s admirable on his part, but at this point in the season, it’s not worth risking an injury.

Montreal Canadiens Yin-Yang

It was not the best performance from a defensive standpoint for the Canadiens’ top line. Slafkovsky was twice caught out of position just moments before the Predators scored.

Given how well the top line has played in 2024, the downtick in production during the last stretch of games is far from surprising. They’re still a very young trio full of players attempting to establish their identity in the NHL, and very few players in the league maintain perfect consistency.

That being said, they do need to improve their focus when they’re forced to defend for sustained stretches.

Just when I thought Slafkovsky couldn’t possibly do any worse from a defensive standpoint, he went ahead and…totally redeemed himself!

References from 30-year-old movies aside, Slafkovsky was certainly focused during a second-period powerplay in which the Habs allowed yet another high-quality shorthanded scoring chance.

On that note, it’s rather concerning that the Canadiens went from the best team in the league in terms of allowing shorthanded goals (3), to the worst in 2023-24 (11). For the record, the most shorthanded goals allowed during a season is 22, a lowly mark established by the Pittsburgh Penguins (84-85), the Minnesota North Stars (91-92) and the Colorado Avalanche (95-96).

Quick Turnaround

The Montreal Canadiens held a slight advantage in shots and high-danger scoring chances, but they were set to enter the second intermission trailing by two goals, a deficit that could only be overcome if the team did something incredible. For example, scoring two goals in six seconds. Of course, scoring two goals in six seconds is not a realistic proposal, but fans can always dream.

Anyhow, the Canadiens proceeded to score two goals in six seconds.

The first came after defenceman Arber Xhekaj did a great job keeping the play alive in the offensive zone. It gave Jake Evans ample time to find Brendan Gallagher in the slot. Gallagher scored his 10th goal of the year.

The second goal came after a David Savard dump-in from centre ice careened wildly off the glass, trapping a helpless Juuse Saros behind his net as the puck made its way into the open net.

You know what they say, you have to be good to be lucky, and you have to be lucky to be good. And sometimes, you just get screwed by the hockey gods. Sorry, Juuse!

If you’re wondering if the two goals set a record, they did not. The two fastest goals in Habs history belong to Max Domi and Joel Armia, who scored within two seconds of each other in 2018. It still stands as the fastest back-to-back goals in NHL history.

Lottery Odds In Mind

Once again, it was the top line that was on the ice when Ryan O’Reilly scored with eight minutes left in the third period.

Slafkovsky, Nick Suzuki, and Cole Caufield had a game to forget from a defensive standpoint, but it’s also true that Kaiden Guhle had one of his most difficult outings of the season.

After a very strong start to the year, things have cooled considerably in Guhle’s case. He’s still rated higher than many of his fellow defencemen, but the results suggest we should re-evaluate our expectations. That’s not to say Guhle is a bad defenceman. He plays a much bigger role than most, and thus, we shouldn’t expect him to be a dominant presence every night.

But he can be better than we’ve seen in 2024, that much is true.

The good news is that Joshua Roy has emerged as a silver lining while some of the team’s core players have struggled to find their rhythm.

The 20-year-old forward scored a great goal to tie the game late in the third period. It was the exact type of goal we’ve seen him score a hundred times in the QMJHL.

He used his anticipation and offensive prowess to create a turnover and quickly drive the puck up the ice, scoring his second goal of the season while also facing a former Norris Trophy winner, Roman Josi.

What we’re seeing now is the results catching up to the fantastic process. Roy has been excellent during both of his NHL auditions, and there’s no doubt he deserves to stay in the Canadiens’ lineup for the foreseeable future.

The late goal was enough to push the game to overtime, where Suzuki played a pivotal role, scoring his 25th goal of the year to end the Predators’ winning streak.

Say what you will about the top line’s defensive play on Tuesday night, but they showed up when the team needed them most.

The Montreal Canadiens are back in action on Thursday. They will be in Carolina to face the Hurricanes with the puck drop scheduled for 7 pm ET.

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