About Last Night: Suzuki scores 30th in 4-1 Habs win over Flyers

The Canadiens reached their first three-game winning streak of the season.

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The Montreal Canadiens are on a three-game winning streak following their 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday at the Bell Centre.

It’s the club’s first three-game winning streak of the season. Nick Suzuki scored his 30th of the season while Mike Matheson crossed the 50-point plateau with a three-assist night. Juraj Slafkovsky ended his teen years by collecting his 41st point of the campaign.

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On the defensive side of things, Cayden Primeau nearly recorded his second consecutive shutout on home ice, but ended up with one blemish in a 29-save performance. David Savard helped keep the puck out with seven blocked shots.

Suzuki opened scoring in the first period, off a hard pass from Slafkovsky. It was a power-play goal. The assist also extended Slafkovsky’s point streak to nine games.

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Before the end of the first period, Jesse Ylönen broke a 43-game scoring slump with his fourth of the season. Suzuki got a helper to reach 69 points, already a career-high.

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There was a noticeable uptick in physicality the rest of the way, starting with Arber Xhekaj and Scott Laughton taking matching minors as the siren sounded to end the first period. The Flyers had more to play for than the Habs, as they’re precariously sitting in a playoff spot with a couple of teams breathing down their necks, including the resurgent Devils with Jake Allen.

Fast-forward to the third period, and the Flyers had not one, but two goals called back. The first came when Primeau lost track of the puck behind him in the crease, and Garnet Hathaway was there to tuck in the loose puck. The only thing was he kicked the puck in amid the chaos in front, so the original call was overturned.

Then Morgan Frost thought he had Primeau beat on an impossible angle behind the net, only coach Martin St. Louis successfully challenged that the play was originally offside. The officials agreed and Primeau’s shutout remained intact. Still 2-0.

Montreal had a goal of their own called back. Suzuki displayed some impressive hand-eye coordination to double hit an airborne puck in the net, but the first one was a high stick.

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Flyers coach John Tortorella pulled goalie Samuel Ersson, but Joel Armia scored an empty netter to put the game out of reach at 3-0.

Philly didn’t quit, and Owen Tippett broke Primeau’s shutout bid with 1:01 to play.

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Montreal responded with another empty-netter, this time from Jake Evans, giving the Habs a 4-1 win in their first game back at the Bell Centre following a five-game western road trip.

Prior to this season, Matheson’s career-high season point total was 34. He now has 51 points, all but 10 them goals, in 2023-24. Kaiden Guhle has had a quiet season offensively, but he’s now on a three-game point streak. Suzuki and the two defencemen sit atop Hockey Stat Cards’ Impact Card on the night. Xhekaj got dinged for taking three penalties.

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The Flyers are a Tortorella-coached team through and through, and what they might lack in talent, they excelled in attempting to get under Montreal’s skin. It’s nice to see former Hab Ryan Poehling has found his game in Philly. His line was a thorn in Montreal’s side all night.

Like the Habs, the liveblog commenters hung on in the third period with the Flyers pressing. Last season, the commenters were a little more torn about garbage-time wins with the faint home of drafting Connor Bedard still a possibility. This year, they seem more united around the idea of the Habs playing spoiler against teams with playoff aspirations.

3. “Good game by the Habs. A bit of an ugly win with the VR’s, but we will take it. First three-game win streak! Playing tough against these playoff-bound teams. Keep it up, great way to end the season.” — Bob Taylor

2. “Both are doing great. Primeau’s more fun to watch, more active. Montembeault’s more clinical.” — T Moore

1. “I know (Matheson) takes a lot of criticism, but you can’t criticize his point production. You have to tip your hat.” — Doug Kirkby

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