About Last Night: Cooley wins first battle of the 2022 picks

Former No. 1 overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky was held pointless … again.

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Nick Schmaltz scored twice to lift the Arizona Coyotes to a 3-2 regulation win over the Montreal Canadiens at Mullett Arena on Thursday.

Last night wasn’t a referendum on the 2022 NHL Draft. That being said, for the masochists: third overall pick Logan Cooley assisted on the game-winner, while first overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky was held pointless for a ninth consecutive game.

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Neither prospect was a major factor. The goalies, on the other hand, kept the game tight while the defences occasionally faltered. Winning goalie Connor Ingram stopped 30 of 32, while Jake Allen made 33 saves.

Rafaël Harvey-Pinard left the game with a lower-body injury and did not return.

An odd stat for the Habs: In the first period they gave up a penalty shot in a third consecutive game. Schmaltz made them pay to put Arizona on the board 1-0.

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Less than a minute later, Sean Monahan tied it up 1-1 with his team-leading sixth of the season. Tanner Pearson didn’t get an assist on the play, but he did successfully screen Ingram. Monahan had six goals all of last season.

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Nick Suzuki thought he had given Montreal the lead before the end of the first, but Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny correctly challenged that the play was offside.

After being involved in an awkward collision in the first, Harvey-Pinard took another hard hit into the boards early in the second. It ended his night early.

With less than a minute left in the second, Lawson Crouse scored on a one-timer just as Joel Armia was leaving the box. It was an even-strength goal in name only and gave Arizona a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.

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With former Hab JJ Daigneault in the house, Brendan Gallagher tied it up for Montreal with a power play goal from a slick pass by Pearson in the third. The goal was the 400th point of Gallagher’s NHL career.

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This year’s Coyotes are not last year’s Coyotes. They remained composed and regained the lead with a power play goal of their own. Cooley streaked in and found Schmaltz back door for the tap-in past Allen.

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A late push by the Habs came up short, giving the Yotes the 3-2 win on home ice. It was Montreal’s first regulation loss since Oct. 24 against the Devils.

It bears repeating: Last night was not a referendum on the 2022 NHL draft. But it also wasn’t a great night for Slafkovsky. The second line spent some time hemmed in their own zone (Kaiden Guhle at one point was stuck on the ice for 2:44), although overall Hockey Stat Cards sees the line’s performance as more mid than disastrous.

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The winners and losers of the 2022 draft will be decided years from now, and there’s no reason to panic over Slafkovsky’s play just yet. But it’s only natural to see Cooley burst on the scene with eight points in 10 games and feel a tinge of jealousy. It doesn’t help the Coyotes were rubbing salt in the wound afterwards.

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The Liveblog commenters are pretty torn about sending the Slovak down to Laval for more fine tuning. The Rocket aren’t exactly lighting it up at the moment, so it’s probably not the ideal learning environment. With Harvey-Pinard exiting the game and Christian Dvorak returning soon, coach Martin St. Louis has a chance to shuffle the lines. Slafkovsky could get new linemates and a fresh perspective.

3. “I knew this would happen. Play fantastic against Vegas and then play like crap against AZ.” -Carin Latzel

2. “Arber needs to realize he cannot touch anyone smaller than him. This means 99% of the NHL !” -Alex Polidoro

1. “That old guy line is the number one line tonight.” -Mick Chow

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