The Montreal Canadiens needed a bounce back game after their horrific performance against the Minnesota Wild last Tuesday. With several days off to get their affairs in order, they delivered precisely the kind of effort they needed on Saturday against the Washington Capitals. Though they gave up a two goal lead in the third period, impressive even-strength play and a snipe from Cole Caufield in overtime were enough to forgive the blown lead.
And they just so happened to get some fantastic goaltending from Jake Allen to ensure the victory.
As good as the Habs were at five-on-five in that game, largely out-possessing the capitals, they struggled to prevent slot chances. Washington was very efficient with the offensive zone time they had, getting to the middle and focusing on quality of chances, rather than quantity. The result was a number of very high-danger scoring chances, most of which Allen handled extremely well.
He was dialed in, and in a way we haven’t seen from him in some time. The two goals he did give up weren’t his fault in the slightest, and if he didn’t make the saves he did, Caufield wouldn’t have gotten his chance to shine in the extra frame.
The Habs may have been the better team, but they struggled to actually hit the net, and remained mostly impotent on special teams. Allen was the linchpin in that victory, ensuring that their two goals were enough to get them to overtime. He earned first star on the night, a well-deserved nod for what was his best game in a long while.
The going theory is that the Habs will be trading a goaltender before the deadline rolls around, and Allen’s name is often brought up in hypothetical trades. If he can bring this level of play more consistently, teams in need of goaltending help (looking at you, Edmonton) might be calling Kent Hughes about his availability in a few months.
Click the play button below to listen to your full Bottom Six Minutes, also available wherever you get your podcasts. It’s a quicker turnaround this time, as we’ll have another episode after Monday night’s game against the Buffalo Sabres.