HabsWorld.net -- 

The Canadiens continued their west-coast road trip with a visit to the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle. The Kraken have been struggling just as much as the Habs, so the expectation was in the air for a high-scoring battle of two NHL bottom-feeders. Cayden Primeau was to take position between the pipes, while Jesse Ylonen and Jordan Harris returned to the lineup.

And the scoring fireworks were indeed there, although the red light kept flickering on mainly behind the Seattle net. In the end, it was a 5-1 victory for the bleu, blanc et rouge, who took leveraged solid goaltending and took advantage of Seattle’s weaknesses whenever they saw it. No happiness for those hoping for a better chance at Macklin Celebrini, but the team needs to see some success, too, in order to continue its progression.

Montreal’s Lines

Caufield – Suzuki – Slafkovsky
Gallagher – Newhook – Armia
Anderson – Evans – Ylonen
Pezzetta – White – Harvey-Pinard

Matheson – Guhle
Xhekaj – Savard
Struble – Harris


10 Thoughts

1) The Kraken came out flying, trying to apply pressure on the visiting team from the starting faceoff and applied some pressure in the Habs’ zone. A little after the four-minute mark, though, the Habs responded, and what a response it was. Kaiden Guhle took a shot–Montreal’s first of the game–from above the left-hand faceoff circle, and as it arrived in front of Philipp Grubauer, so did Juraj Slafkovsky. The big Slovak winger slid into the crease just as Grubauer was getting set for Guhle’s shot: as the puck was coming in, Slafkovsky slid his stick in front of Grubauer, and the Swiss goaltender was distracted enough to miss the puck, which ended up sliding through his pads and into the net.

2) Two minutes later, it was another Guhle shot from near the blue line, and this time it was Alex Newhook tipping it. Grubauer couldn’t do anything about this one, either, and it was 2-0 Montreal, on just two shots on goal.

3) It took until 11:32 before the Habs recorded their third shot on net, as Newhook took a wrister on Grubauer. Ylonen flipped the puck onto the net on a zone entry a minute later, but that was all there was for another five minutes. A power play ensued from a Jamie Oleksiak trip of Rafael Harvey-Pinard, but the Habs couldn’t record a shot on net even with the help of a man advantage.

4) Finally, with two and a half minutes remaining in the period, the Habs finally put the puck on the net again. Jordan Harris sent a breakout pass from the defensive zone to Nick Suzuki along the right-side boards. Suzuki broke into the Seattle zone, with Cole Caufield holding down the other side of the two-on-one, and took a clean wrist shot from near the boards to beat Grubauer and bury the puck in the top corner of the net on Grubauer’s glove side.

5) From the faceoff, it was the Habs’ third forward unit pressing the Kraken. Brendan Gallagher, promoted back to the top six by Joshua Roy’s injury, fought off Jamie Oleksiak just a stick’s length away from the blue ice, and got the puck out to Newhook, who was skating in. Newhook one-timed the puck and found the back of the net for a fourth Montreal goal, on only six shots. That was the end of the night for Grubauer, as Joey Daccord took over the goaltending duties.

6) The Kraken apparently had decided during the intermission that they were not dead yet and that a 4-0 Montreal lead was a mere scratch. So, fifty-six seconds into the period, it was Jordan Eberle skating in on the right-side boards, and he took a shot from there, scoring a marker nearly identical to Suzuki’s goal in the first.

7) Andre Burakovsky took a hooking penalty a little more than a minute later, giving the Habs an opportunity to pad their lead, but the best scoring chance during the abbreviated power play was on a Seattle shorthanded break. And then, a little over a minute into the power play, Newhook was called for hooking, cutting short the man advantage and sending the teams onto a four-on-four for about fifty (uneventful) seconds. Once Seattle gained the man advantage, though, they got their power play going, and Matty Beniers put an Oliver Bjorkstrand pass behind Primeau to narrow the gap to three goals. However, the Habs’ coaching team had quickly identified that the play was offside, so they made a rapid (and successful) coaching challenge.

8) Eleven minutes in, it was Seattle’s turn for a full power play, as Jayden Struble was sent to consider his behaviour in the sin bin after slashing Tye Kartye. However, just 20 seconds into the power play, Mike Matheson intercepted a cross-ice pass deep in the Montreal zone and turned on his afterburners to get on the attack. The only Seattle player remaining in front of him was former Hab Tomas Tatar, a forward and a power-play specialist. Matheson skated around him and for Daccord, and then jinked left. As Daccord dove to block a shot, Matheson tucked in a backhand shot just below Daccord’s right pad to restore a four-goal lead, at 5-1 this time.

9) Newhook nearly scored his first career NHL hat trick at 15:25, as Joel Armia fought off two defenders in the right-hand corner and then got the puck to Newhook, at the bottom of the right circle. Newhook took a quick shot, beating Daccord, but it rang off the very top far corner of the net, and that’s as far as the Habs got to scoring again.

10) The third period was all Kraken, as the home team pressed hard to try to close the gap and get back into the game. Primeau was at his best in this period, fighting off ten shots, seven of them high-danger scoring chances. Expected goals in the period were over 90% Seattle; while Primeau didn’t steal the game for the Habs, he certainly prevented a Kraken comeback with his play.

HW Habs 3 Stars

First Star: Kaiden Guhle (1g, 2a, 2 shots, +4, 21:48 TOI) played like a rock, in spite of the hammering he took from some of the Kraken players, much like he had seen in the Vancouver game. Another super mature game for a young defenceman at just 22 years old.

Second Star: Cayden Primeau (31 shots, 30 saves, .973 save %, 2.87 GSAx) didn’t see much dangerous action early on, but in the second half of the game, he came onto his own and made a number of excellent saves to protect the Habs’ lead.

Third Star: Alex Newhook (2g, 0a, 3 shots, +1, 15:10 TOI) is near his career-high season totals already despite having played only 43 games. An excellent teamwork play from Gallagher gave him his second goal, and an Armia pass almost got him a hat trick. Add to that an 8/14 night in the faceoff circle, and there is not much more that can be expected from him.