About last night: Habs end road trip with regulation win

Alex Newhook and Cole Caufield both lead the team in goal scoring with seven.

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Cole Caufield and Alex Newhook each scored their seventh goals of the season to end the Montreal Canadiens’ road trip with a 4-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Wednesday.

The Habs end their five-game road swing with six points. It was the team’s fourth regulation win of the season.

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Joel Armia broke the 2-2 deadlock with 2:57 left in the third period for the game-winner. Sam Montembeault started in goal and made 26 saves.

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It was a scoreless first period, with Columbus taking the edge in shots and chances. NHL scorekeepers are an inconsistent bunch at the best of times, and they only gave the Canadiens one giveaway after 20 minutes. But to anyone watching, Caufield in particular was responsible for a couple of turnovers in his own end.

Four goals were scored in the second, starting with Patrik Laine on a breakaway.

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Newhook tied it up less than four minutes later. He made no mistake on his second chance just moments after hitting the post. For a brief moment, Newhook lead the team in goal scoring with seven.

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Columbus retook the lead about two minutes later. Montembeault was caught out of his net thanks to his own defenceman, and Yegor Chinakhov scored in an open cage to make it 2-1.

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Before the second period was out, Christian Dvorak was stopped on the initial shot but Caufield pounced on the rebound to even things 2-2 headed into the third. Juraj Slafkovsky got his fifth assist of the season. After getting outshot 13-9 in the first, the Habs peppered Elvis Merzlikins with 14 shots compared to only six for Columbus.

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Outside of the four goals in 10:28, it was a fairly uneventful game. Beyond offsetting minors in the second, the only power play of the game came in the third period when Gustav Lindström received a delay of game penalty for flipping the puck over the glass.

With yet another overtime looming, Joel Armia broke the cycle by tipping in Mike Matheson’s point blast to give Montreal their first lead of the night with 2:57 to go.

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Finally, Lindström scored his second as a Hab with the net empty to seal a 4-2 road win for the Habs.

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The continued break-up Nick Suzuki and Caufield paid dividends last night with goals from the top two lines. According to Hockey Stat Cards, the top four defencemen in ice time were the team’s top contributors.

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In Newhook’s final season in Colorado, he scored 14 goals in 82 games. It was also a career-high. Despite going through nearly a month-long scoring drought, he’s up to seven goals in 22 games.

A pair of milestones for the Habs: Caufield is fourth all-time among Habs forwards in terms of fewest games to reach 60 goals. He did it in 145 games.

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Matheson also got his 50 point in his 70th game as a Hab. He’s the third fastest defenceman to reach the mark for the club.

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The game was mostly penalty and contact-free, and the liveblog commenters were pining for a little rock ’em sock ’em hockey. In other words, they’re already waiting for the Florida Panthers at the Bell Centre on Thursday. After 10 players were ejected from the Panthers-Senators game on Monday, the commenters are hoping Michael Pezzetta and Arber Xhekaj re-enter the lineup against Matthew Tkachuk’s club.

A question brought up in the comments: does it matter if the Habs win in regulation or overtime? Is a win just a win in the grand scheme of things? If the Habs find themselves in a playoff race, conceding extra points to division rivals isn’t optimal. But this season? Coach Martin St. Louis probably isn’t sweating the three-point outcomes.

3. “Don’t care who we’re playing, we played well, and deserved the win, and Montembeault saved us early.” — Ryan Katz

2. “Love the way Newhook changes speeds on the fly … really nice skater !” — Alex Polidoro

1. “All of you who thought that Newhook would be tied with CC for the lead in goals this far into the season, please raise your hands. … Liars.” —Michael Way

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