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Canadiens vs. Capitals Top Six Minutes: Cole Caufield seals the win

Oct 21, 2023; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Washington Capitals goalie Darcy Kuemper (35) makes a save against Montreal Canadiens right wing Cole Caufield (22) during the second period at Bell Centre. | Credit: David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports

The goal for this game is limit the power-play chances for the Capitals. Montreal had eight minors versus the Blackhawks and seven versus Minnesota, so if they can get that down to at least six, they’ll be making progress.

First period

  • An “Olé!” chant starts off the game. It’s either going to be a really good one or a really bad one.
  • Montreal spends the first two shifts in Washington’s zone, but they did the same thing versus the Wild….
  • Michael Pezzetta clangs a shot off the post. The fourth line follows up with another offensive-zone presence, and that’s a great shift for Pezzetta, Jake Evans, and Jesse Ylönen.
  • Jake Allen stops the first shot he faces. So far the game-quality meter is leaning into ‘good’ territory.
  • And after that start … it’s a Canadiens penalty.
  • David Savard kills about 20 seconds by pinning the puck along the board, but his three teammates are right there as well. It eventually requires a big save on Alexander Ovechkin for Allen from point-blank range.
  • Evans sees some more offensive-zone time while on the penalty kill. That’s one bright spot from what has otherwise been a difficult situation.
  • Sportsnet’s shot counter seems to be broken, but only on Montreal’s side. We’ll say they have three (plus a post) in the opening few minutes.
  • The Habs have recognized their opponent isn’t playing with the same intensity and dropped their own level to match. It’s a bad habit.
  • After two good shifts, it’s another Canadiens penalty. It’s not looking good for hitting a maximum of six.
  • The puck is down. That’s your cue to stop talking, Garry Galley.
  • Montreal gets a goal-line stand with three Capitals on the doorstep. The penalty kill is hanging on so far.
  • Juraj Slafkovský tips the puck just wide of the net. He then gets tackled by Tom Wilson along the boards. There’s no penalty called.
  • Sean Monahan makes a rare bad play: a drop-pass … to Ovechkin. Ovechkin leads a two-on-one, but Allen makes a pad save on the ensuing play.
  • Josh Anderson’s stick is slashed, and that seems to be the most egregious thing you can do in the NHL this season. Canadiens to the power play with Ovechkin in the box.
  • Three shots in the opening 30 seconds, and the third one is a tip of a perfect Nick Suzuki pass by Monahan at the side of the net. Now that’s how you move the puck.
  • Washington goes for one last chance, but Arber Xhekaj just shoves his man to the ice to prevent it.

Second period

  • Montreal gets a strong start out of the gate in the second. Suddenly the shot counter is up to eight.
  • The Capitals aren’t getting many chances, but they are able to get to the front of the net way too easily when they do.
  • Rafaël Harvey-Pinard tries to steal the puck, but his stick gets into the feet of a turning player, who goes down with the contact. Penalty count: 3.
  • Allen stop Ovechkin point-blank once more. He seems like a dangerous player, so the Canadiens should try to keep someone on him.
  • Another good PK shift from Evans and Ylönen.
  • Cole Caufield collected a puck about three feet behind him and threw it on goal in the same motion.
  • “Montreal only has 12 shots. It seems like they have more.” Yes, it certainly does seem that way, Garry.
  • Montreal gets another goal. Brendan Gallagher needed that one in a bad way. Vintage wrecking-ball Gallagher there to follow the puck right into the net himself.

You are correct, sister site:

  • Anderson’s mini-break is broken up perfectly by Rasmus Sandin. I wonder if the team that traded Sandin away regrets that decision.
  • Caufield gets one chance carrying the puck in himself. He gets another from a quick little flick pass behind the back from Suzuki to gain some open space. They’re having some fun tonight.
  • There aren’t many players that Caufield has a size advantage on, but he just steamrolled Matthew Phillips on a zone entry.
  • Allen makes a save on a double-pad stack on another chance that materialized to easily for Washington. Montreal has to tighten up its defensive structure.
  • Another Canadiens penalty. I think this is four.
  • That one probably wasn’t a penalty, but several of the other ones haven’t been either. Regardless, back to the penalty kill.
  • It’s a 2-0 lead at the end of 40 minutes.

Third period

  • After an intermission spent making excuses for the Toronto Maple Leafs, we’re back for the third.
  • With the Canadiens still on the PK.
  • Anderson gets an open look, but Darcy Kuemper makes the stop. That could have been the dagger.
  • Montreal is on the power play once again. Maybe they can put this one away here instead?
  • There’s definitely more urgency in the power play tonight. They look like they want a goal and not just to make some passes.
  • Alex Newhook made a pass to Monahan in the slot, but it looked like he thought he shot the other way. Chalk that up to an adjustment to make with a new team.
  • The final blow did not come on that power play, FYI. But they go right back on the advantage.
  • This is the most oohs and ahhs I’ve heard on a Canadiens power play in a very long time. This is encouraging.
  • Now it’s a five-on-three because Washington couldn’t deal with the pressure.
  • Suzuki turned the puck over, and it could have been a chance against … if Mike Matheson hadn’t just glided back faster than most players can skate at full speed.
  • Tom Wilson takes yet another penalty, then screeches at the ref about the call. He doesn’t get an extra minor for it, but it’s still a five-on-three.
  • Have to make this one count, and Martin St-Louis, who just called his timeout, knows it.
  • You knew the refs were going to look for a call there, and they get Anderson for a slash.
  • Why bother even calling a penalty if you’re just going to look for an immediate makeup call? Anyway. Still a PP.
  • I don’t like the third line getting caught up ice because they don’t have the speed to recover.
  • And it’s 2-1. Not the shift you want from your veterans while holding a 2-0 lead.
  • This game much much less nerve-wracking when it was 2-0.
  • Slafkovský draws a penalty by racing to the corner on a forecheck, forcing Milano to get in his way. You’re not going to get these chances forever.
  • After all that good movement earlier, now they’re back to the stationary attempt to set up Caufield. That just doesn’t work.
  • Two players outside the blue line on the power-play setup isn’t an ideal formation.
  • Washington pulls its goalie and Capitals tie the game just as he gets to the bench. RHP didn’t pick up his man in time to prevent a shot from close range.
  • It’s another blown multi-goal lead.
  • Well it’s a point, but this game should be over now.
  • Annoyingly, the Maple Leafs have also come back from multiple goals to get a point.
  • Caufield wins it with a perfect shot in overtime!
  • What an awful change by the Capitals, who had four players on the ice and still no one close to defending.
  • Montreal wins 3-2, and moves to 2-1-1- on the season.
  • Just one day off until the next game now. There won’t be many long breaks for a while now.
  • We’ll find out if Kaiden Guhle is able to go for Monday’s game in Buffalo.

EOTP 3 Stars

3) There are no bad ideas at this point

2) Unless you happened to pick that category in your fantasy league

1) Suddenly he’s on pace for 20 goals, which would be just fine