Down two goals after 20 minutes of play, it sure looked like the Montreal Canadiens were in line for a second-straight regulation loss on Thursday night. The Columbus Blue Jackets were the better team in the first period by a fair margin, and there was no apparent path for the home team to get themselves back into the game. They went into the dressing room after that frame looking utterly defeated.
I don’t know what Martin St-Louis said to his team in that first intermission, but they came out flying to start the second period.
They looked like a completely different team. Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki were electric. The third line was routinely hemming the Blue Jackets in their zone. They astonishingly managed two power play goals, despite being one of the worst teams with the man advantage in the NHL this season. And they did it all pushing a much faster pace than they were in the first 20 minutes, creating a more enjoyable viewing experience in the process.
It was run-and-gun hockey at its finest, and it allowed the Habs to take over the possession and scoring chance columns. It created the power plays that they ended up using to force overtime, and allow Cole Caufield to play the hero.
The more loose style of play left them vulnerable to counter-attacks, but on the whole it was a breath of fresh air that the team needed. Whatever St-Louis said, it was precisely what his team needed to hear, and they delivered in the next two periods and overtime. The second period in particular has been a bit of a challenge for them this season, so it was nice to see them flip that script and make it a turning point in a comeback win for them.
There is still a lot of work needed around making their special teams consistently good enough to avoid digging these holes, but the way they climbed out of this one at least gave them a foundation to work from.
St-Louis clearly has the ability to inspire more out of his players, and hopefully he can inspire more efforts like those 45 minutes against the Blue Jackets.
Click the play button below to listen to your full Bottom Six Minutes, also available wherever you get your podcasts. We’ll be back after Saturday night’s final game of the home stand against the Winnipeg Jets.