The Canadiens recorded yet another come-from-behind victory as they bettered the Winnipeg Jets at home with a 4-3 shootout victory on Saturday. Outshot 45-29 by the Jets, Jake Allen kept the Habs in the game until Joel Armia, in his return from the AHL assignment, wristed a Kaiden Guhle pass to tie the game. Captain Nick Suzuki sealed the victory with the only goal in the shootout.
Caufield – Suzuki – Anderson
Harvey-Pinard – Newhook – Slafkovský
Pearson – Monahan – Gallagher
Pezzetta – Evans – Armia
Matheson – Kovacevic
Guhle – Barron
Harris – Xhekaj
1) After a slow start, Alex Newhook was called for hooking Adam Lowry, and the referee judged that he had interfered with a breakaway, awarding Lowry a penalty shot. On the shot, Jake Allen began to move across to continue to cover the net with his butterfly, but the Jets’ forward scored through the now-open five-hole to give the early lead to Winnipeg.
2) The Habs’ first comeback of the night was quick, as Kaiden Guhle sent Rafael Harvey-Pinard and Justin Barron on a two-on-one break. Harvey-Pinard got the puck to Barron, who managed to flip it up under the arm of Laurent Brossoit to tie the game up.
3) Cole Caufield was called for tripping before the halfway point of the first, after what looked like an inadvertent collision with Winnipeg’s David Gustafsson. The Jets’ power play struggled much like the Habs, unable to execute the zone entry, and the Habs penalty kill continued to show signs of life. Guhle was sent off for tripping Namestnikov later in the period, and the penalty kill, reinforced with the insertion of Joel Armia into the lineup, was effective in minimizing the Jets’ scoring opportunities.
4) With four seconds left in the first power play, the Jets were called for too many men on the ice. Not getting results with five men on four, the Jets’s coaches apparently decided that seven on four might work better for them.
5) It was a brutal start to the second period, as the Jets scored 15 seconds into the period, and again just 18 seconds later. Sloppy play in the Habs’ defensive end gave Winnipeg the opportunity to score from next to Jake Allen’s post, and Lowry lifted the puck into the top corner, over Allen’s shoulder. Seconds later, with the same players on the ice, the play was equally careless, and Nino Niederreiter tapped in an errant clearing pass from behind the net. A night to forget for Jordan Harris, who lost Lowry on the first play and made the fateful pass on the second.
6) The Canadiens continued their improved power play, though. They managed a controlled zone entry and won several battles to keep the puck in the offensive zone. Better yet, the power play was once again mobile and unpredictable: Nick Suzuki, Mike Matheson, and Caufield kept the play moving but were looking for a high-danger chance. Eventually, they found it, and Sean Monahan potted another power play goal with a nifty deke and a backhander.
7) As the Habs were finishing another effective penalty kill at the start of the third, Jake Evans, Guhle, and Armia broke out and into the Winnipeg zone, three on two. Guhle, carrying the puck, outplayed Nikolaj Ehlers to make a pass to the uncovered Armia, who lifted the puck over Brossoit to tie the game.
8) The Habs finally came alive in the third, again. It’s great that they can fight back from a two-goal deficit, but it might be even better not to concede the lead early on in the game. Maybe?
9) Caufield had two excellent chances in overtime, but this time the young sniper was unable to beat Brossoit to put the game away. Shootout it was, then.
10) In the shootout, Suzuki’s opening goal on Brossoit got a big applause, but Allen’s save on archenemy Mark Scheifele got an even stronger reaction from the Bell Centre crowd. We love our heroes, but we hate our enemies even more
HabsWorld Habs Three Stars
First Star: Kaiden Guhle (0g, 2a, +2, 25:08 TOI) worked with Justin Barron for much of the night, recorded a team-high time-on-ice of over 25 minutes, and demonstrated his offensive chops with the two assists. Not the slapshot cannon for Guhle, but the combination of speed and smart passing makes him a different kind of offensive threat.
Second Star: Jake Allen (42 shots, 39 saves, .933) didn’t look great on Winnipeg’s two quick goals in the second, but he turned away dozens of shots after that and capped the evening with a clean result in the shootout.
Third Star: Johnathan Kovacevic (0g, 0a, +1, 23:11 TOI) played most of the night with Mike Matheson, facing the Winnipeg top line of Scheifele, Kyle Connor, and Alex Iafallo, effectively shutting them down, both at five-on-five and the penalty kill. The heavy minutes are a clear indicator that Kovacevic has gained the trust of head coach Martin St. Louis. A particular highlight was his play on a 2-on-1 Scheifele-Iafallo two-on-one in the first, preventing the duo from getting a dangerous scoring chance.