Hidden Game: Canadiens get spanked by the high-powered Rangers

Juraj Slafkovsky and Nick Suzuki extend their scoring streaks, but Montreal gives up seven goals for the second time in three games.

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We wonder what the internet trolls, many of whom were writing Juraj Slafkovsky off as a rookie, are pondering now?

The former first-overall draft choice last season established a Canadiens franchise record for teenagers Thursday night against the New York Rangers with his second-period goal, giving the Slovak winger points in seven consecutive games. Slafkovsky, only 19, now has 11 points over that span, including six goals. The old record was held by the late Doug Wickenheiser.

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That much you know.

What you might now know was Slafkovsky’s father, also named Juraj, left Montreal on Wednesday after visiting his son. That meant the elder Slafkovsky witnessed the first three-point night of his son’s career on Tuesday, against Anaheim.

“He’s doing all the hard work off the ice … cleaning, cooking and getting the groceries,” Slafkovsky explained following Wednesday’s practice at the CN Sports Complex. “He came last Friday. We had a few dinners. It’s nice to see him, and I saw him the week before at home (during the all-star break). We’ve had enough of each other.”

As you can see, Slafkovsky is a great kidder.

Strange, but true (Part I): Slafkovsky actually plays better on the road, it seems. He now has 27 points in 49 away games over his brief career, but in 44 games at the Bell Centre, he has been held to a modest 12 points.

This is why teams win: The Rangers are now on a six-game winning streak, the second time this season they’ve produced at least that many consecutive victories. New York has six players with 30 or more points and four with at least 15 goals.

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The reunion would have been nice: The Rangers on Wednesday recalled Alex Belzile from their Hartford AHL affiliate. But the former Laval Rocket captain, who played 41 games for the Canadiens, was a healthy scratch against Montreal.

Goal-scoring machine: Jake Evans, who opened the scoring for the Canadiens, might have only four goals in 54 games, but he has goals in two consecutive games.

He always comes to play: The Canadiens had only three shots through the opening 11 minutes, but one came from Michael Pezzetta, of course. He also delivered one of his patented hits on Braden Schneider in the game’s 14th minute.

Ugly sight: Blake Wheeler never returned following a first-period hit from Jayden Struble. The check was clean, but Wheeler got his right leg caught in a rut and he limped off the ice, having obviously suffered a knee injury.

Strange, but true (Part II): Canadiens captain Nick Suzuki is on the hottest streak of his career, with points in nine consecutive games, including seven goals and eight assists. But he’s still seeking the first goal of his career against the Rangers in his 11th game.

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Pick on somebody your own size: Rangers defenceman Jacob Trouba, 6-foot-3 and 209 pounds, had no business gooning it up with 5-foot-8, 175-pound Cole Caufield in the first period.

Sign him, Danny Maciocia: Trouba, again, went head-first into Kaiden Guhle in the second period and took him out, the Canadiens defenceman temporarily leaving the ice in discomfort.

When it rains, it pours (Part I): The Rangers scored four consecutive second-period goals in a span of 4:10.

When it rains, it pours (Part II): The Rangers scored on three consecutive third-period shots.

Defence wins championships: The Canadiens have allowed seven goals in two of their last three games. And that’s why there doesn’t appear to be a Stanley Cup in their immediate future.

But this team never quits: Despite trailing 4-1, 5-2 and 7-3, the Canadiens displayed mettle and should be commended.

Strange, but true (Part III): The Rangers scored three times in the third period despite only six shots and were outshot 35-31 in the game. Canadiens goaltender Samuel Montembeault has been brilliant most games and generally has given his team a chance to win. But with only 24 stops, his save percentage was an ugly .774.

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A crowded leaderboard: Alex Newhook, Joel Armia, Joshua Roy and defenceman Mike Matheson all were minus-3 against the Rangers.

Welcome back: Brendan Gallagher returned following his five-game suspension for his illegal hit on New York Islanders defenceman Adam Pelech. But Gallagher made little impact, failing to register a shot in 12:24 of ice time. He was a minus-1.

Best names in the NHL: Rangers centre Jonny Brodzinski sounds like a character out of Goodfellas, followed closely by Kaapo Kakko. Trying saying that three times, fast.

Stats of the night: Rangers defenceman Adam Fox had four assists. New York forward Artemi Panarin had three assists. Caufield had two goals and an assist.

At least he’s honest: Alex Lafrenière originally was credited with the Rangers’ fifth goal. But he could be seen shaking his head no on the team bench. Sure enough, the score eventually was changed to Vincent Trocheck.

They said it: “I’m sure (the Rangers) got yelled at pretty good after the first,” Caufield said. “They’re a good team. They’re deep. They’re a veteran team and they know what to do. That one kind of got away from us. Not really happy with the result.”

“There’s some areas to correct,” Gallagher said. “When you’re playing one of the best teams in the league in their building, momentum is something you’ve got to be able to harness. Giving up four goals that quick, when a building gets going, it’s pretty tough to slow down. It’s a lesson we’ll learn … and hopefully not repeat.”

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