A few weeks ago, it would have been odd to think that the Montreal Canadiens could be in a pivotal contest against the Ottawa Senators. Back-to-back wins have been extremely hard to come by in Montreal, and last night’s was huge given that it brought the Habs within two points of the Winnipeg Jets. They’re not just playing for the playoffs anymore, they’re jockeying for a better position.
And their power play has been a surprising catalyst for their resurgence in the last few games.
When they went down 2-0 last night, it felt like the game could be over, but they didn’t quit. Jeff Petry brought them within one, and the power play took it from there. They were given an opportunity not long after the Petry goal, and some excellent puck movement led to Nick Suzuki scoring. Unfortunately, the goal would be called back for interference.
Despite the fact that Suzuki’s goal ended up disallowed, the silver lining was there in the form of great puck movement. When granted another attempt later in the frame, they kept that momentum going, and ended up getting one that was never in doubt.
Again, perfect puck movement. They work the puck down low with quick passes, and a lateral pass to their most lethal shooter this season in Tyler Toffoli is the end result. He’ll usually have a hard time missing those, and this is a blueprint for what they need to be doing on the man advantage.
It’s very encouraging to see production from that unit, and more so when you consider that it’s Suzuki and Toffoli doing the heavy lifting right now. Cole Caufield is heralded for his shooting skills and they still haven’t quite found the right movement to get him the shots he needs.
Of course, Caufield found his own way to get involved in overtime, but if they can pass him open like they did for his teammates last night, it seems only a matter of time before he gets involved on the man advantage as well. If he gets shots like Toffoli did last night, it’s hard to see him missing much.
For some time, one of the biggest things holding this team back has been special teams. That they’ve now posted two games straight with some competent outings on that front is a great sign. You don’t want to read too much into it, but I bet Alex Burrows is taking notes of the good things they’re doing, and strategizing on how they can harness those things moving forwards.
And if these Canadiens can add a consistently dangerous power play to their usually solid five-on-five numbers, maybe they’ll do better than most are expecting come playoff time.