MONTREAL – The least we can say is that Canadiens fans got their money’s worth in this crushing 6-2 triumph over the Arizona Coyotes which featured more players including Juraj Slafkovsky and Arber Xhekaj.
Here are our observations of this second consecutive victory of the formation of Martin St-Louis who played slightly with fire in the last third.
What a scene for Slafkovsky’s first goal
Sometimes it’s worth waiting in life and Slafkovsky’s first goal is an eloquent demonstration of that.
The first choice of the Habs had just dodged a blow tinged with bad intentions from Josh Brown in the offensive zone. Without wasting a second, Arber Xhekaj saw fit to abandon his post to avenge Slafkovsky, who is already his great friend, deep in offensive territory.
By doing so, a turnaround was created which smiled on the Slovak. The number 20 blew up the Bell Center crowd with a shot that gave his team a 4-0 cushion, which is 3-2-0.
“It’s fun to play with young people, but even more so with Arber, he can kill anyone on the ice,” Slafkovsky said with his big smile.
Savoring the moment, Slafkovsky allowed himself to taunt Brown immediately after his goal and he had the great candor to wave to the crowd during the ovation.
“I don’t even remember how I counted, I was just thinking about going to celebrate, that’s the most beautiful part of scoring your first goal,” Slafkovsky confessed.
Already Sheriff in the NHL, the fun of young people
Nicknamed Sheriff in junior hockey, Xhekaj has been undeterred since his extraordinary rise to the NHL.
Strongman Zack Kassian wanted to revive his squad which was losing 3-0 in less than eight minutes of action. He had the very, very bad idea of inviting Xhekaj to throw away the gloves.
We still doubt the relevance of fights in hockey, but the 21-year-old defenseman served up quite a correction to Kassian.
“I wanted to see what I could do against the big guys in the NHL and it went pretty well. I was in junior last season, the guys aren’t that old,” Xhekaj explained.
A few minutes before this fight, Kassian had rushed into the boards by missing a check. A scene that could only recall his nocturnal misadventure having driven him out of Montreal.
But what we remember above all is the pleasure that emerges from the succession of the CH. We think of Slafkovsky’s smile following his goal, Xhekaj’s fiery reaction at the end of his fight, the laughter that the two youngsters exchanged in the penalty box when Kassian retired to the locker room, with the aplomb shown by Kaiden Guhle and let’s not forget Jordan Harris who is holding his own.
The least we can say is that the coach of the Coyotes, André Tourigny was not having fun. He threw a legitimate crisis to his troop after the third quick goal of the Montreal clan while his club had not yet fired a shot on Jake Allen.
“It’s tough when you’re up 3-0 quickly. I was an offensive player in the NHL, you think you’re going to get some points, but you have to keep your focus, that was our message. We were able to do that for the majority of the game. It is important for the maturity of our team to have this mentality, “identified the coach.
The young captain amazes in turn
At 23, Captain Nick Suzuki is far from old. Number 14, however, is a veteran of the Habs.
Suzuki made sure to join in the fun and not in a trivial way. Shorthanded, Suzuki protected the puck so well that he had Clayton Keller get in the way when it came time to shoot.
Suzuki’s feint was even more beautiful, he slowed his gesture to the extreme to gently lob the puck at the last second above the glove of poor Connor Ingram.
A feint that was so well mastered by Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk.
“I had a few fakes that I could use taking this route,” reacted Suzuki, who watched the videos of the most impressive goals on Youtube.
With a harvest of six goals, you must have guessed that Cole Caufield had also hit the target. From the 253e second of the clash, Caufield took advantage of a Coyotes turnover to thread the needle. A fourth goal too easy for the 22.
Let’s not forget Gallagher and Anderson
Three true veterans found the back of the net. The first goal of the evening was the work of Josh Anderson after sublime patience from Kirby Dach in the enclave. His snap to Jonathan Drouin led to Anderson’s goal on the return.
Against a team that struggled most of the night, this trio of Dach, Anderson and Drouin pulled off some inspired streaks.
As for Brendan Gallagher, he was the author of the third goal for his team. Here is another who was patient to unleash his two-on-one shot.
The other was Sean Monahan in an empty net.
“In general, I liked our game, it’s not easy when you lead by five goals. The other team becomes less predictable, the players will try things, but we knew that. Jake made some good saves,” said St-Louis.
Allen resumes his position in force
In the third period, the CH saw the Coyotes recover with more inspired play on a few occasions. Jake Allen, who became a father for the third time, was back in front of his net and there was nothing he could do against the visitors’ two goals.
But Allen was solid against other threats from the Coyotes. Considering the little sleep that awaits him in the next few months, Allen was probably happy to be a little less stressed in this duel.
We will particularly remember his very good saves against Barrett Hayton and Kassian.
The CH will complete its four-game stay at home by hosting the Stars on Saturday and the Wild next Tuesday.