Samuel Montembeault and Igor Shesterkin turned Sunday’s game between the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers into a goaltending battle, for the most part. Scoring was no easy task, as there were plenty of high-danger chances happening at both ends of the ice, yet only three goals scored over 60 minutes.
Two thirds of the scoring just so happened to have Cole Caufield’s fingerprints all over them, and those campaigning for him to make the NHL All-Star Game couldn’t be happier.
It was clear very early against the Rangers that he was intent on having an impact on the scoresheet. Seconds into the game, he dangled past Adam Fox, nearly completing a highlight-reel goal if not for the efforts of Shesterkin between the pipes.
That would have been something, Cole pic.twitter.com/qijhvw3bWm— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) January 15, 2023
That stop didn’t deter Caufield, who was very effective for the Habs in generating counter-attack chances on the night. He’d earn a secondary assist on Kirby Dach’s power play goal to put the Habs on the board, and then later in the game, he’d score the game winner from a spot where everyone in the building and watching on TV knew he wouldn’t be missing.
He’s a game breaker. The Habs were soundly out-possessed by the Rangers, but Montembeault in net, and those aforementioned counter-attacks enabled them to have more high-danger chances, despite losing the possession battle. Shesterkin was equal to the task most of the time, so having someone as automatic as Caufield to get that key goal was huge. That clutch sniper ability may not be enough to turn these Canadiens into a playoff team, but it will be incredibly important when they finish building a more complete roster.
It would be a great disappointment if he doesn’t end up making the All-Star Game with how well he’s playing right now. He’s an exciting, dynamic young player that deserves the chance to be featured alongside the league’s stars. Without him, one can only imagine how bleak things would be looking in Montreal right now.
Click the play button below to listen to your full Bottom Six Minutes, also available wherever you get your podcasts. The Habs will now head back home after their NY back-to-back, and we’ll have another episode after they host the Winnipeg Jets this Tuesday night.