The Habs played the second game in their season-long seven-game road trip as they visited the surging Wild in Minnesota on Thursday. The game was going to be tough from the start as Montreal had not won in Minnesota since 2011. They played hard and came back to tie the game twice before finally losing with only seconds remaining in overtime. The final score was 4-3 and was Emil Heineman’s NHL debut, though he logged less than six minutes of ice time in the extended affair.
Cole Caufield — Nick Suzuki — Juraj Slafkovsky
Sean Monahan — Jake Evans – Josh Anderson Joel Armia – Christian Dvorak – Brendan Gallagher Emil Heineman — Mitchell Stephens — Jesse Ylonen
Mike Matheson — David Savard
Kaiden Guhle — Justin Barron
Jayden Struble — Johnathan Kovacevic
1) It was a rough first shift for the Habs and a sign of things to come for the period. They were able to rebound as play evened out for most of the first half of the period. The Wild truly appeared susceptible to odd-man rushes throughout the first ten minutes of play, but once they clamped down in the neutral zone, they really took over and dominated the rest of the first period, out-shooting the Habs 13-3.
2) The Wild’s first goal of the period came on the power play as Matheson apparently forgot he was on the penalty kill and rotated with coverage which left Matt Boldy wide open in front of the net. He received a pass and outwaited Montembeault before scoring.
3) Savard had a rough first period as he took a selfish retaliation penalty and was in the box during the game’s first goal. On the second goal, he missed two clearing attempts before getting stranded by Evans. Trying to cover two Wild players, he picked the wrong guy as the pass found Marco Rossi on the far side who wired a low shot by Montembeault to extend the lead.
4) The second period was much better for the Canadiens as they almost evened the shot clock, out-shooting the Wild 12-4. The real story of the period was penalties as the Habs took eleven minutes in penalties (three Wild power plays for five total) and the Wild were assessed a crazy 25 minutes of penalties in the period, giving up five power plays in the process.
5) The Habs only scored one goal in the period to cut the lead and it was not on the power play. Savard made up for his first period as he was able to pick up a Caufield rebound and got it by Filip Gustavsson extending Suzuki’s point streak to four games in the process.
6) Both teams were getting chippy in this period as big hits and questionable retaliations drew the ire of the opposition. Guhle laid out a charging forward and Rossi took exception. Rossi dropped the gloves with Guhle which was a bad idea. The result of this was Rossi being assessed an instigator. A few moments later, Gallagher came in hard on Zach Bogosian as the veteran defender took exception and went after Gallagher resulting in another Habs power play. This one was shortened though as Matheson was called for interference soon after, though there was a carryover advantage at the end of the period.
7) The start of the third period saw the Habs finally strike on the back half of the man advantage as Slafkovsky accepted a pass from Matheson, fired a hard low shot from the top of the circle and the rebound ended up right on Suzuki’s stick as he tied the game early in the third.
8) The Wild were picking up momentum as the period moved forward and just before the half of the period, Armia opened the door wide open with a relatively dumb holding penalty. The Wild wasted little time in making him play as seconds later, Brock Faber skated in and put a wrist shot through a literal crowd in front of Montembeault. The Habs netminder saw nothing and the shot found twine as the Wild were able to re-establish their lead.
9) With three minutes to play, the Habs top line was at it again. A strong shift in the offensive zone ended up on Savard’s stick. Savard fired from the point and Slafkovsky tipped the puck. The tip appeared to have played some Plinko as it bounced off Gustavsson and then a defender before entering the net. Obvious overtime, right? Wrong! The Habs needed an outstanding glove save by Montembeault to get there, but they did.
10) With under two minutes to play, Rossi did his best Tim Stutzle impression as he floundered rather easily, but it worked as he suckered the official into calling Caufield for a cross-check. Luckily for Caufield, the officials, and the Habs, Savard, Suzuki, Evans, and Kovacevic completed an absolute masterclass in penalty killing to get the game to overtime. In overtime, Montembeault made some big saves but with just four seconds to play, Kaprizov found some open ice to rip home the game-winner.
HabsWorld Habs 3 Stars
1st Star – Nick Suzuki
Perhaps it’s because my play style was very similar to Suzuki’s when I played, or maybe it’s because I just appreciate a smart player, but the number of times in a game where Suzuki makes a play that makes me smirk at how clever some of the small details in his game really are, are astounding. Those plays he makes are starting to find the back of the net with more regularity too since he’s been paired with the two most skilled forwards on the team in Slafkovsky and Caufield. Make that another two points on the night for the captain.
Stats: 1 goal, 1 assist, even, 1 hit, 6 shots, 24:17 T.O.I.
2nd Star – Juraj Slafkovsky
There were many times in the last few weeks when Slafkovsky was the best forward for the Habs but the production wasn’t following. Tonight was not as dominant for Slafkovsky (though still very good), but the production found him as he scored an immensely important goal to tie it with three minutes to play after the power play assist earlier in the third. He’s making his management team look very smart of late, and the coach knows it too as he seems to find himself in increasingly important spots on the ice for the team.
Stats: 1 goal, 1 assist, +1, 2 shots, 17:41 T.O.I.
3rd Star – David Savard
After a rough first period, Savard regained his composure and his usual shot-blocking machine self. He was also able to add in a goal and an assist to have a nice bounce-back effort for the final 40 minutes of the game. It was important too as the big, physical Wild needed to face tougher opposition than they did in the first.
Stats: 1 goal, 1 assist, -1, 1 shot, 23:25 T.O.I.