About Last Night: Cayden Primeau leads Canadiens to first win on western road trip

Backup goalie makes 36 saves as Montreal’s sputtering offence comes alive in 5-1 spanking of Kraken.

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Cayden Primeau made 36 saves to lead the Canadiens to a 5-1 victory over the Seattle Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena on Sunday.

It was Montreal’s first win on their current western road trip. Kaiden Guhle had three points, while Alex Newhook scored twice.

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The Habs entered the game with only six goals in their last four games, so the ice-cold offence needed to come out swinging. And that’s exactly what happened, as the Canadiens scored four times in the first period, chasing starting Kraken goalie Philipp Grubauer.

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Juraj Slafkovsky was originally awarded the first goal just 4:18 in, but it turns out he didn’t deflect the Guhle point shot after all, so the defenceman got his sixth of the season.

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The Habs made it two goals on two shots against Grubauer, this time off an actual deflection by Newhook from a Guhle point shot to make it 2-0.

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Nick Suzuki scored his 28th to give Montreal a 3-0 advantage. The captain was on a two-on-one with Cole Caufield, but he elected to shoot, beating Grubauer glove side.

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Still in the first period, Newhook ended Grubauer’s night early with Montreal’s fourth goal on only six shots. In came Joey Daccord to stop the bleeding.

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Primeau took care of the game the rest of the way, stopping 26 of 27 shots in the second and third periods, compared with only 10 shots by the Habs in the final two frames. The only one Primeau allowed came 56 seconds into the second period by Jordan Eberle.

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The Habs mostly sat back and let their goaltender handle everything the rest of the way, but they did regain a four-goal lead later in the second period when Mike Matheson blew by former Hab Tomas Tatar and beat Daccord shorthanded for a highlight reel goal. The Habs lead 5-1 after 40 minutes.

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More Primeau shutting the door in the third period. He’s now 2-1 since becoming the backup goalie after the Jake Allen trade, and in those two wins he stopped 77 of 78 shots.

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After being split up for a game, Guhle and Matheson were reunited on the top pairing and were a combined plus-9. The end game is likely to have them both on their natural (left) sides, but for now, the Canadiens might as well finish the season with their two biggest minute munchers together. Matheson in particular entered the game at minus-32  on the season and helped his cause with a plus-5 performance. He and Guhle were the top players last night according to Hockey Stat Cards, with Newhook and the top line also delivering.

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The Liveblog commenters entered the game bemoaning the state of the offence and while one game doesn’t change things, the commenters caught a glimpse of what a functional second line might look like with a two-goal game from Newhook. But everyone still expects Canadiens management to dip into their defence and draft pick surplus to add a scorer or two this offseason.

As for Primeau, for now he’s the backup and Sam Montembeault the starter, but how clear-cut is the situation going forward? Primeau’s goals-against average sits at 2.85 with a .910 save percentage in 17 games, compared with Montembeault’s stat line of 3.12 and .903 in 35 games. Even with Allen gone, a new goalie battle could be brewing next season.

3. “Player comparison: Slaf 15g, 24a, 39 pts in 70GP. Wright 19g, 22a, 41pts in 53GP. Of course, one is in the NHL and the other the AHL. Only time will tell (do NOT make the mistake of calling Shane a bust), but for now it looks like HuGo and the scouting staff made the correct choice.” -Michael Way

2. “Good on Habs for being opportunistic, taking advantage of some shaky early goaltending to go up 4-0. Lucky to have that lead as Seattle controlled the game. Would have looked a lot different if it wasn’t for Primeau. Shout out to Pezz, he came to play tonight.” -Doug Kirkby

1. “The Cayden Primeau Show.” -Max Gray https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/14767170/

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