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The Habs tried to build on their strong start to the season despite the absence of Kirby Dach as they hosted the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night. Unfortunately, only one team showed up and it wasn’t the Habs. The Wild skated to a 5-2 win, and in all honesty, the Canadiens deserved a score worse than that.

Montreal’s lineup:
Cole Caufield — Nick Suzuki — Rafaël Harvey-Pinard
Tanner Pearson – Alex Newhook — Juraj Slafkovský
Josh Anderson — Sean Monahan — Brendan Gallagher
Michael Pezzetta — Jake Evans — Jesse Ylonen 

Mike Matheson — David Savard
Kaiden Guhle — Johnathan Kovacevic
Arber Xhekaj — Jordan Harris 

Samuel Montembeault 

10 Thoughts 

1) That first period looked like a young team affected by the loss of one of its most important players. The Habs were not moving and were actually lucky to get out of the period down 2-0 as the Wild also hit two goalposts. 

2) Special teams continue to be a problem early in the season as the Habs surrendered two short-handed goals in a 25-second span in the first period. They then allowed two power play markers in the second. One on a 5-on-3 early in the second and then a basic power ply goal late in the period to ensure the entirety of the special teams were trash on the night. 

3) Samuel Montembeault was outright terrible in the first period. He surrendered a straightforward shot that went right through him for the first goal and saw two more shots hit the post. He was much better in the second and third and was under attack all night long, but frankly, the damage had been done. 

4) Tanner Pearson got the Habs on the board right in the middle of the second period as he blocked a Kirill Kaprizov shot in the defensive zone to create a 2-on-1. He opted to shoot and was successful in providing the very first glimmer of hope for the Canadiens on this night. 

5) Michael Pezzetta tried to pile on and really get the crowd into the game after the Pearson goal by dropping the gloves with Brandon Duhaime. Pezzetta won, but frankly, that’s a huge risk to take with the team gaining its first bit of momentum moments earlier. Pezzetta was entirely justified in his second fight though, and he won that one as well. 

6) A little positivity? The Pearson-Newhook-Slafkovsky line looked fine together. Just about the only positive offensively on this night. 

7) The injuries keep on keeping on. On this night it was Kaiden Guhle who wasn’t able to finish the game. Let’s wait until the official update before confirming what we all believe which is that this will be a significant injury too, right? After the game, the team said he has an upper-body injury and is still being evaluated.

8) Johnathan Kovacevic had quite an uneven game. Through the first 30 minutes, he was perhaps the worst player on the ice. An absolute turnover machine that looked like he was quite simply trying to do too much. In the third period, he was all over the offensive zone and created quite a few scoring chances. More of the third period Kovacevic, less of the first half Kovacevic, please! 

9) What’s with the chippy play in the third period? The Habs are already ravaged by injury and playing their first stinker in another season with no expectations. Why are they so upset? And the Wild? They’ve already won the game and continued egging it on? Strange third period.

10) I spent all summer stating that Suzuki and Caufield did not need to be separated. We are three games into the season… they need to be playing on different lines at 5-on-5. I will hold my ground though that the reasons that were stated this summer are not the reasons why. Suzuki and Caufield need to play apart because they’ve become too predictable together. Go back to the magical 2021 playoff run, Caufield would sometimes be the playmaker and Suzuki the scorer. The Newhook goal late in the game showed that Caufield can absolutely be more than the shooter. Yet, whenever they are on the ice together, they are too quick to revert to their positions without considering that the opposition is ready for it, every, single, shift. Might be time to give them a different look. 

HabsWorld Habs 3 Stars

1st Star – Tanner Pearson 

Many in the fan base were quick to write him off after the first game. He may not be a Hab for a very long time, but he’s been a really quiet player with what has been a wicked shot so far. He was one of the few players that wasn’t consistently on the wrong side of the puck in this game. He scored the first goal for the Habs and got robbed on the power play in the final minutes of the second period. 

Stats: 1 goal, even, 2 hits, 3 shots, 13:58 T.O.I. 

2nd Star – Alex Newhook 

Not much positivity to go around here. One for me was Newhook in zone entry on the power play. Maybe get him on the first wave and stop making Suzuki try to enter the zone with the puck. It’s been tried for two years now, but it doesn’t work. Newhook also showed some chemistry with Caufield on his goal in the third. Might be because Caufield was allowed to carry the puck. 

Stats: 1 goal, even, 1 hit, 2 shots, 16:26 T.O.I. 

3rd Star – Jake Evans 

Evans is all heart. The small and limited-in-talent player always has his motor running and his effort is rarely a question mark. On a night like this, that effort is noticeable because the rest of the team really wasn’t. 

Stats: Got some scoring chances and stuff, 11:56 T.O.I. 

After the game, the Habs confirmed that Kirby Dach suffered a torn ACL and MCL on Saturday against Chicago.  He will undergo season-ending surgery.