The Montreal Canadiens have not fared well in back-to-back games this season. It has been difficult for the Canadiens to sustain the energy and intensity needed. When they went down 2-0 early in the third period versus the Ottawa Senators, it looked like the same old song.
However, something clicked.
Montreal rallied for two goals to force overtime. Tyler Toffoli, once again, played a primary role in both goals. His assist on the Jeff Petry goal was one thing but the power-play goal to tie the game was clutch. Thanks to Nick Suzuki and Corey Perry’s net-front presence, Toffoli was able to tie the game.
This was all behind an effort that Saw Montreal outshoot Ottawa 18-3 in the third period. That set up the overtime heroics.
|14:52||OTT||Tim Stützle (9)||Artem Zub, Colin White|
|05:51||OTT||Thomas Chabot (6)||Evgenii Dadonov, Shane Pinto|
|08:12||MTL||Jeff Petry (12)||Tyler Toffoli|
|14:25||MTL||PP||Tyler Toffoli (27)||Nick Suzuki, Corey Perry|
|1st OT Period|
|02:25||MTL||Cole Caufield (1)||Jeff Petry, Jake Evans|
Cole Caufield wins the game for Montreal Canadiens
Caufield was a bit rested for this contest. He wound up playing a hair for less than 12 minutes on Saturday night and was utilized in manageable situations. Remember, Dominique Ducharme had the luxury of last-line change. That proved to be important especially in the extra session.
Three-on-three overtime was tailor-made for players like the Montreal winger. The Ottawa Senators feature a speedy forward group with some puck-moving defensemen. Caufield is one of the few game-breakers on Montreal’s roster.
Caufield scored at 2:25 of overtime to give Montreal a vital 3-2 victory. Here is the goal err le but!
ET DE UN.
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) May 2, 2021
A little extra French flavor on that goal from an American hockey player. Just a month ago, Cole Caufield was getting ready for the Frozen Four as a Hobey Baker Award winner for the University of Wisconsin. Now, his goal is a big reason why he will play in a playoff series this season.
The goal happened so fast because it was so simple. All Jeff Petry does is rush out wide. The puck-moving defenseman stretched the young Ottawa defense out. That allowed Caufield to rush up the middle of the ice unimpeded. He blows by the defender almost going offside. Once the winger is that far open, this was when Petry notices him on the ice. The timing was nearly perfect.
Still, Caufield had some work left. He had to get the puck on the net quickly. Again, the winger keeps things simple but quickly shovels the puck past Filip Gustavsson. The Ottawa goaltender has zero chance to stop a play that happened with that much pace. This was strictly a two-man play with three Ottawa players trying to backcheck. Ottawa had no chance to stop it.
Again, the significance of the goal cannot be understated for several reasons. Yes, it was Cole Caufield’s first career goal in the NHL. It was a game-winner in overtime. It was a game Montreal had to have. They took four points in a back-to-back for the first time in a long time.
It was all of that.
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What the Montreal Canadiens have now?
Developments have happened as they say. With the Winnipeg Jets in freefall themselves, suddenly third place in the North Division is not out of the question. Both Winnipeg and Montreal have six games to go and the Canadiens trail them by just two points.
Montreal is 5-5 in their last ten while Winnipeg is just 3-7 and losers of six straight games. What looked nearly impossible two weeks ago does not now. This has allowed the Edmonton Oilers to gain and solidify second place in the division as well.
Who does Montreal want to play? Montreal is 5-2 against Edmonton so far this year and just 2-4-1 versus Toronto. The answer looks to be obvious. Now, the playoffs are always different but on the surface, an Edmonton team looks a bit less daunting than Toronto. Toronto’s sustained pace and balance scare Montreal.
Edmonton moves that needle far less toward panic even with Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and company. Furthermore, it appears like Carey Price could be ready to return at any time but he need not be rushed at all.
Carey Price should resume skating in the next few days. He’s trending in the right direction. @CanadiensMTL
— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) May 1, 2021
Again, should Price even have to play the rest of the regular season? That is the question. The answer is up to Montreal’s coaching staff. It will matter less on the standings and more on Price’s health. Price must be 100% ready. Fortunately, there will be some extra rest for the first round this year, unlike last season.
The Cole Caufield goal last night set this in motion as Montreal now has a luxury it did not have just 48 hours ago. Now, things get truly interesting.