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Canadiens Postgame

Slafkovsky Earns Two Points In Hard-Fought Loss To Leafs



Montreal Canadiens Toro

The Montreal Canadiens hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre on Saturday night, a game which promised to feature two motivated teams.

Even though the Habs aren’t going to make the playoffs, they always show up versus Toronto, whereas the Leafs are in the process of trying to prove they have the type of killer instinct necessary to make a healthy run during Spring hockey.

It was a hard-fought battle, and the Habs did quite well at 5v5, but the Leafs edged them out 3-2.

Let’s dive into those highlights!

Hot Start

It took the Canadiens just 38 seconds to score their first goal of the game. It was the type of goal that checks a lot of boxes for the Habs, boxes that are rarely checked by the end of most games.

It was an early goal, it came off the rush, and it involved great neutral zone passing to set up the play.

It was Mike Matheson’s ninth goal of the season, not to mention Cole Caufield’s 32nd assist. I know fans are a little anxious when it comes to Caufield’s lack of goal production lately, but he’s still taking more shots than most players in the NHL. The goals will come.

In the meantime, Caufield has pushed another aspect of his game to the next level, which bodes well for the team’s long-term rebuild plans.

Momentum Shift

After 40 minutes of play the high-danger scoring chances were tied at 5v5, while the Habs held a 57 percent edge in expected goals.

That being said, the Leafs’ high-danger chances were a little better than those produced by the home team.

Max Domi gave us ample evidence when he turned on the rocket boosters to give himself a fantastic scoring chance. Domi made no mistake, giving the Leafs a 2-1 lead with less than 2 minutes left in the second period.

It was Domi’s eighth goal of the season.

Speed Kills

The Canadiens have enjoyed slight improvements when it comes to their efficiency on the powerplay, but you’d be hard-pressed to say they now own a healthy man advantage.

Simply put, they have a really hard time generating speed through the neutral zone.

That was the case on Saturday night, until the captain, Nick Suzuki, decided it was time to end the shenanigans. His speed and controlled entry into the offensive zone were the catalyst to the play which featured Alex Newhook’s 10th goal of the season.

Newhook suffered an unfortunate injury earlier in the season, but he’s been excellent since returning to the team, adding a much-needed speed element to the lineup.

We should also note that Juraj Slafkovsky registered his second important assist of the game.

Go Johnny Go!

Overall, the Habs did a great job shutting down the Leafs’ best players, as Auston Matthews was effectively shut down by Suzuki throughout the majority of the game.

It was up to the Leafs’ captain, John Tavares, to make the difference.

He did so late in the third period when he outworked Tanner Pearson to score what we used to call a ‘Dino Cicarelli special’.

The Montreal Canadiens will be back in action on Tuesday when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm ET.

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