For a third time this year, Cole Caufield was the overtime hero.
Caufield scored the game-winner in extra time to give the Montreal Canadiens a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday at Little Caesars Arena.
The win snapped a four-game losing streak. Cayden Primeau made his second start of the season and stopped 27 shots in the victory.
Mike Matheson shook off a couple of rough outings with a three-point performance.
Coach Martin St. Louis smashed the “in case of emergency” glass in search of sparking his club. He split up joined-at-the-hip top liners Nick Suzuki and Caufield, and went with this top-6 instead:
Alex Newhook-Suzuki-Josh Anderson
Caufield-Christian Dvorak-Juraj Slafkovsky
It worked in the first period, where 10 different Canadiens got shots on opposing goalie James Reimer. One of them went in: Suzuki’s heads up play allowed Newhook to race into the zone. He fed Matheson the trailer, who hit top shelf for the 1-0 Habs lead. It was the first time in seven games the Habs opened scoring.
In the second, two goal reviews dramatically changed the evening. Montreal thought they jumped to a two-goal lead when Sean Monahan jammed a loose puck home, but Wings coach Derek Lalonde correctly challenged the play was offside.
Then the Wings hit the scoreboard when the puck appeared to hit Christian Fischer’s hand and crossed the goal line. The officials went upstairs to determine if he directed the puck with intent, but in the end it was deemed a good goal. Just like that, it was all tied up 1-1.
The Liveblog commenters are pretty torn about offside reviews. Most want the officials to get the call right, and if it means going upstairs, so be it. But what about plays where it’s a matter of a skate tip? It feels like a repeat of the “toe in the crease” pedantry of the late 90s.
Suzuki got his revenge in the third period with a power play goal from his office at the top of the right circle. Montreal took the lead 2-1.
Primeau had a solid night between the pipes, but he gave JT Compher just enough space along the top corner. The former Av beat the Habs netminder from a sharp angle to tie the game with just under 14 minutes in regulation.
The Habs went to overtime for a sixth time this season. Early on, it was the Dylan Larkin and Alex DeBrincat show, but Reimer made the inexplicable decision to hold Caufield’s stick. The move sent Montreal on 4-on-3 power play with 1:33 left. With 34 seconds left and a shootout looming, Caufield ended it, becoming the fastest player in NHL history to score 7 career OT goals.
Suzuki, Caufield, Monahan keep rolling on offence. They’re all hovering around the point-per-game mark. With his three-point performance, Matheson joined them in the double-digit points club. Monahan extended his current points streak to seven games.
So how did the new lines work? Newhook’s speed seemed to match Suzuki’s smarts, while Slafkovsky and Dvorak showed potential. And of course, when overtime hit, Caufield and Suzuki were reunited. Not surprisingly, Matheson’s big night made him Hockey Stat Cards’ most impactful player by a longshot.
The Liveblog commenters were initially sceptical about coach St. Louis’ new lines, but they ended up enjoying an entertaining game. They’ve also liked what they’ve seen from Cayden Primeau in limited duty this year. Is it time to make a decision regarding the three-headed goalie situation? And if so, who’s the goalie who goes?
3. “Excellent game for Primeau. Hopefully this will give him confidence and can build on it. Matheson had a comeback game. CC excellent shot. Monahan another strong effort. Petry? Not so much but then we’re all past that chapter so I shouldn’t bring it up.” -Habs SkiFan
2. “This could be a great line! Anderson. Newhook and Suzuki ! Lots of movement !” -Alex Polidoro
1. “Since Primeau has looked pretty good tonight, would you start him against Boston or Vancouver this weekend?” -Bob Taylor