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The Habs got back on the ice Thursday looking to replicate a strong Tuesday showing where they thumped the reeling Flyers. This time, they were trying to help the Flyers as they tried to spoil the New York Islanders’ attempts to qualify for the playoffs. The Islanders played a heavy trap and completely clogged all zones which the young Canadiens were unable to overcome the strategy, allowing New York to skate away with an incredibly important 3-2 overtime victory. 

Montreal’s Lines

Cole Caufield — Nick Suzuki — Juraj Slafkovsky
Brendan Gallagher – Alex Newhook – Joel Armia                                Tanner Pearson – Jake Evans — Josh Anderson                               Michael Pezzetta — Christian Dvorak — Rafael Harvey-Pinard 

Mike Matheson — David Savard
Jordan Harris – Johnathan Kovacevic                                                 Jayden Struble – Justin Barron 

Samuel Montembeault 

10 Thoughts

1) The first period was essentially a chess match with little action. This is usually said of teams studying each other, but in this case, it was mostly due to a lack of execution by both teams. Casey Cizikas, Suzuki, and Gallagher exchanged interesting scoring chances that were stopped in the period. Pezzetta got the only penalty and the shots ended 9-5 for the Islanders. 

2) At that 15-minute mark, news broke that Lane Hutson’s season in the NCAA came to an end. Cue the Hutson to Montreal watch in the upcoming days. Here. We. Go! 

3) With two minutes to play in the period, some patient play with the puck by Slafkovsky once again opened the door to an offensive shift where all three players got looks before the scrambling Islanders allowed a point shot from Harris with the same Slafkovsky in front of the net to open the scoring. The goal belonged to Harris, but the play belonged to Slafkovsky, what a player he is quickly becoming. 

4) The second period belonged to the Islanders who looked like a team desperate to make the playoffs in this period. After hitting the crossbar a shift earlier, they were finally able to tie the game when Pierre Engvall was allowed to walk to the centre of the ice with Struble and Caufield both covering down low. Engvall took advantage and beat Montembeault from the slot. 

5) Montembeault stood tall for the rest of the period as Montreal had to kill two more penalties as Slafkovsky took an offensive zone holding and Pezzetta an unquestionable boarding. Gallagher fought Jean-Gabriel Pageau in what appeared to be somewhat of a retribution effort over last game’s hit on Pelech. The final shot tally for the frame was 12-5 in favour of the Islanders. 

6) The Habs woke up in the final moments of the second and had their best shifts as Armia hit a post before the top line got a good offensive zone shift in the moments prior to the Pezzetta penalty. While the hit by Pezzetta was without a doubt questionable, Pelech appears to be a player who places himself in those positions quite often, much like the Habs’ own Justin Barron. 

7) With roughly four minutes expired in the third period, Matt Martin blocked a Slafkovsky shot that hurt him and opened the slot. Kovacevic saw this and made a cross-ice pass to Caufield who buried his scoring chance. 

8) Three minutes later, the Islanders really buried Montreal’s top line in their zone. Caufield and Struble were both guilty of being hesitant with the puck and feeling the pressure of the Cizikas forecheck. The puck stayed in the Habs zone where Cizikas was finally able to score on a wraparound effort to tie the game back up. 

9) With seven minutes to play, Kovacevic cleared the puck into the stands which meant yet another New York power play.  Montreal’s penalty kill continued to be an important story in the game as they never even allowed the Isles to gain access to the offensive zone, setting up what should have been an interesting final five minutes. It wasn’t and the game was tied after regulation with the shots being 32-14 overall. 

10) The overtime was a strange one as the Habs played a better first minute, but Dvorak didn’t take a shot on a two-on-one rush and the Islanders made them pay as Kyle Palmieri buried from a sharp angle; Montembeault will not like the game-winner that he gave up. 

HabsWorld Habs 3 Stars

1st Star – Cole Caufield 

I guess the demise of Caufield was somewhat exaggerated, huh? Caufield continues his white-hot April with two more points. A silver lining in an otherwise lame-duck effort by the team.  

Stats: 1 goal, 1 assist, +1, 4 shots, 1 hit, 16:35 T.O.I.  

2nd Star – Jordan Harris 

Harris’ season has been uneven, but recent injuries have provided opportunities and he’s been able to take advantage and play his best hockey of the season. This one wasn’t any more spectacular than the others, but the goal in addition to a rather bland performance by the team provides a perfect opportunity to highlight what’s been a solid streak of play recently by the young defender. 

Stats: 1 goal, even, 1 shot, 1 hit, 21:57 T.O.I. 

3rd Star – Samuel Montembeault 

Hard to argue with what we appear to be seeing on a consistent basis out of Jake Allen in New Jersey and both Primeau and Montembeault in Montreal since the trade deadline. The Habs carried three NHL-calibre netminders for most of the season and the strange usage wasn’t favourable for most of them. Montembeault had another strong performance on this night against a team desperate for a win as they were playing for their playoff lives. 

Stats: 31 saves on 34 shots, .912 save %, 2.94 GAA, 61:17 T.O.I.