How to watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EDT / 4:00 PM PDT
In Canada: Sportsnet Ontario
In the Canadiens region: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL Live
Since an excellent first two weeks of the season, the Canadiens have been a decent team but not nearly good enough to go on a long winning streak like other top clubs in the league. In fact, they could rarely string even two wins together over the past three months, managing that just one time since February 2. Yet with the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks uncomfortably close in the rearview mirror, they finally claimed four points from a games played on consecutive nights to not only pull away from any hint of a pursuit but move up to within striking distance of the Winnipeg Jets.
To get that second wind, they got a great performance from Jeff Petry and then found the net two times on late power plays, with one of them allowed to stand and tie the game up. At the end of a calculated overtime period, Cole Caufield capped off the night with a perfectly timed rush to bang in his first NHL goal.
The win makes it a bit more likely that the Canadiens’ first-round playoff opponent won’t be the Toronto Maple Leafs but the Edmonton Oilers if they can overtake the free-falling Jets. But just in case they don’t manage to pull that off, it would be a good idea to set the tone in the final three regulat-season games with Toronto played over the next six days.
Tale of the Tape
|54.8% (2nd)||Corsi-for pct.||48.8% (16th)|
|2.88 (15th)||Goals per game||2.71 (20th)|
|2.82 (16th)||Goals against per game||3.40 (28th)|
|20.6% (16th)||PP%||16.0% (26th)|
|78.1% (23rd)||PK%||79.0% (20th)|
After a five-game losing streak in the middle of April, the Maple Leafs enjoyed an opposite run to end the month. Not only did they win five in a row, but their last four haven’t been particularly close, with just one goal allowed and at least four goals for in each of them. The Canadiens were one of those victims on April 28 when the teams last faced each other on Wednesday. The goals started less than two minutes in, and the Leafs took advantage of their opportunities to lock down the victory.
One positive in the game was a goal for Nick Suzuki as he began to find his offensive rhythm once more. He’s now riding a five-game point streak, and Montreal’s results are beginning to go the way they did when he started the season with points in seven straight. His 13th goal proved a bit unlucky when it was called back for goaltender interferece versus the Ottawa Senators, but he kept the current streak alive by setting up Tyler Toffoli not long afterward.
Montreal isn’t going into the game with all of its top players, but the ones that are available are playing at a high level. Suzuki, Petry, and Caufield’s goals on Saturday were no fluke given their play over the past week or so (Petry is also on a point streak of four games of his own). Then there’s the play of Jake Evans and Artturi Lehkonen who have given Caufield a seamless introduction to the NHL game with their relentless efforts. A fourth line made up of the oldest players on the team was also very dangerous with its cycle game on Saturday. Even Ben Chiarot was feeling the itch to get in on the attack, and got below the offensive goal line on multiple shifts trying to set up scoring chances.
That kind of aggression will benefit them against Toronto as they try to break the air-tight defensive game they’ve shown recently, but it would also open them up to counter-attacks the other way, which has largely been how the Habs have surrendered their goals lately. If not for some heroics from Cayden Primeau to turn aside some breakaway chances on Saturday, we may have been writing much different stories than the ones celebrating Caufield’s first goal.
It’s a fine line you have to walk when going up against one of the top clubs in the league, and what worked against the Jets and Senators probably won’t be as effective versus the Leafs. Dominique Ducharme has three live exercises to get the battle plan figured out before a potential seven-game series between the two teams.