The Montreal Canadiens rode the adrenaline from advancing past the Toronto Maple Leafs. That resulted in a surprising Game 1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday night. Now, the question is did anyone expect Montreal to score five goals in this game?
Montreal Canadiens’ Offense Goes Wild
It would have been understandable if Montreal had lost Game 1. Montreal had little time to come down from the high of defeating Toronto in seven games (after being down three games to one). What occurred in Winnipeg on Wednesday night can be best described as surreal. Montreal scored three goals in the first 20 minutes in Winnipeg.
The first period was capped by this goal from Nick Suzuki. Thanks to Scott Malta once again for the video on this gem.
Sweet baby Jesus what a goal from Nick Suzuki pic.twitter.com/nMUiOEOMK8
— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) June 3, 2021
The great part about this goal is how it was set up. Yes, Cole Caufield got a secondary assist but this one was pretty much all Nick Suzuki. It looked like Connor Hellebuyck has the move stopped. Well, Hellebuyck thought he did. That is where Suzuki’s forethought reigns supreme. The winger creates enough room for himself to be able to tuck the puck just around Hellebuyck’s skate. It’s a margin of millimeters.
The marvel is that the Montreal forward did all of this at full speed. He did not slow down one stride. Suzuki scored with ease with the handiwork to boot. This goal made it 3-1 after Winnipeg got on the board. It changed the momentum of the game completely.
From there, Winnipeg was never able to fully catch up. The Canadiens and Jets traded goals in the third period to set the final margin of two goals. Montreal won 5-3 and Game 2 comes from MTS Centre on Friday night.
Jake Evans sealed the game but…
Winnipeg got to within 4-3 on a Kyle Connor goal late in the third period. It was Jake Evans’ attention to detail that nabbed Montreal’s fifth goal. He chased the puck down and tucked it into the empty net. What occurred next is not for the faint of heart…
Evans got freight-trained by Mark Schiefele. The hit has been shown enough times to make the blood boil on many sides. Scheifele had been agitated all game long. There were several plays where it appears the Winnipeg center let emotion get the best of him. He skated almost 200 feet to hit Evans and there was no forethought to play the puck. Scheifele wanted to send a statement and he did.
Jake Evans laid there on the ice and would have to be stretchered off. There will be updates on his condition later in the day. The important thing is his health. While many argue the debate of how long of a suspension, the paramount priority is Evans.
Montreal counted on his tenacious defensive abilities and it is a definite question mark as to his status going forward in the series. Give Nikolaj Ehlers a ton of credit for realizing the gravity of the situation and putting everything aside. Ehlers got in everyone’s way to protect Evans from further harm as players fought around the fallen Evans.
Scheifele was assessed a five-minute major and ten-minute misconduct. Surely, there will be an inevitable hearing from NHL Player Safety as well. It does little to ease the loss of Evans from Montreal’s standpoint. Hopefully, the Montreal forward can return sooner rather than later and at 100%.
The kids are alright…
One quick stat leaped across the pages last night. It was this. The Montreal Canadiens’ young forwards have combined for 11 points in these playoffs. They are all at or under the age of 21. Suzuki, Caufield, and Jesperi Kotkaniemi are that young.
It is fun to think of what future they may have together. However, the right now dictates that since their full infusion into the Montreal lineup, Montreal has become a much better team. They are balanced and it has had a ripple effect.
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The Montreal Canadiens’ Special Teams
That’s right. Montreal’s special teams were a net positive in Game 1. Brendan Gallagher scored a power-play goal which, at the time, gave the Canadiens a 4-2 lead. Overall, the Canadiens went 1-4 on the man advantage. This is while killing all three Winnipeg power-play attempts. There were a few dangerous moments but Carey Price and the Montreal penalty killers held firm.
Winnipeg had come in with a 30% power play against the Edmonton Oilers and had one of the top ten power plays in the league. Montreal’s penalty kill ranked tied for 23rd. That mattered none. The Canadiens were effective in containing the Jets’ power play and stopping certain plays from happening. It was one of the big differences in Game 1.
A few final words…
The fallout from Game 1 is going to have long-reaching effects. There will be an inevitable suspension for Mark Scheifele. How long that will be is anyone’s guess? Jake Evans will be out for an indeterminable period of time. Montreal will have to adjust accordingly. They have shown so far, in these playoffs, adaptability. Montreal will need to continue to do so throughout this series in order to advance.