The Montreal Canadiens were ostensibly down and out quite early in their game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night. Giving up two goals in the first three minutes, they battled back into a game that ended up going back and forth, and requiring some last-second heroics for the Habs to get to overtime and ultimately, a win.
If not for Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki, we’re likely talking about a regulation loss.
Caufield got himself involved early, scoring a power play goal in the first period to tie the game at two, helping to erase that aforementioned deficit. Suzuki, for his part, assisted in giving the team their first lead of the night with an absurd no-look pass to Mike Matheson in the second period.
They were individually crucial to the Habs being in the game at all, and with the game on the line, Suzuki and Caufield came together for some magic.
The Habs were clearly trying to feed Caufield for the tying goal. With three seconds on the clock, Suzuki found him with a sublime pass, the likes of which only he could complete. It would be hard to fault him if he chose a prayer of a shot from the half wall, but he trusted his abilities and got the puck to the man they were looking for.
Oh, and for good measure, Suzuki continued his assault on NHL goaltenders in the shootout to win the game.
Suzuki and Caufield are both still very young in their careers, but are bordering on, if not already elite. This, on a team that is still projected to finish outside of the playoff picture, and closer to Connor Bedard than the Stanley Cup. On a team that hasn’t had a 40-goal scorer since Vincent Damphousse, they’re both currently on pace for 50.
Some pundits have attempted to throw cold water on their season to date — their on-ice shooting percentage must be unsustainable, right?
But what is considered sustainable in the realm of magic? How often is an absurd cross-ice pass, completed in the direction of an elite shooter, going to end in a last-second, game-tying goal? I don’t have a large enough sample to give you an answer on that, but I can tell you that it worked 100% of the time, every time, against the Flyers.
And if the Canadiens can continue to build around such magic, eventually they’ll have sustainable scoring elsewhere that allows them to compete for a Stanley Cup.
Click the play button below to listen to your full Bottom Six Minutes, also available on your podcast platform of choice. We’ve got a couple of days off here, and will return this Tuesday when the Habs host the Buffalo Sabres.