About Last Night: No canary in a Cole mine as Habs beat Flames 2-1


Cole Caufield played 15:40 and had four shots in his NHL debut for the Canadiens.

Article content

Who needs an offensive jolt from your best prospect when you can just limit the opposition to one goal? It wasn’t a storybook beginning for college scoring whiz Cole Caufield in his NHL debut, but he and the Habs probably breathed a sigh of relief about the ending: a sorely needed 2-1 victory over the Calgary Flames Monday night at Scotiabank Saddledome. The Flames have been nibbling at the Habs’ heels since the start of their three-game series, but in winning the final meeting, the Habs dealt a serious blow to their divisional rival, regaining a six-point lead for the fourth and final playoff spot in the North.

First thing’s first, let’s watch Caufield step on the ice for the first time:

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

May the newest number 22 for the bleu-blanc-rouge have a career in line with the likes of John Ferguson and Steve Shutt. OK, back to the game.

Coach Dominique Ducharme played the lineup card close to his vest, only revealing close to puck drop that Alexander Romanov was sent to the taxi squad. Jake Evans played in his second straight as an emergency recall and Tomas Tatar dressed despite getting hurt on Saturday. Jonathan Drouin and Paul Byron remained out, while deadline adds Erik Gustafsson and Jon Merrill formed the third defensive pairing.

Caufield played the game’s opening shift, and early on showed off his pro-calibre shot by rifling a board rattler wide on Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom. The first period had all the trappings of a Darryl Sutter contest, with only five shots hitting either goalie for most of the frame. Each team did manage to squeak goals in before the buzzer: Shea Weber broke a 21-game scoring drought with an increasingly infrequent heart-stopping slap shot from relatively close range. Minutes later, Johnny Gaudreau hypnotized the Habs defenders with his stickhandling long enough to find a wide open Elias Lindholm, who beat Habs goalie Jake Allen to tie the contest. The first period ended 1-1, with only 11 shots total. Caufield nearly got his first NHL point when he made a heady zone exit to a streaking Phil Danault to start an offensive rush, but they couldn’t finish.

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

The second period opened with three consecutive icings by the Habs, again playing into Darryl Sutter’s game plan of lulling everyone to sleep. Allen had trouble on a couple of rebounds, with Joakim Nordstrom almost making him pay, but otherwise the period consisted mostly of poor zone clearing attempts by the Habs. On offence, the Habs needed nearly all of game’s first 40 minutes to reach double-digits in shots, yet escaped to the dressing room up a goal when Tyler Toffoli scored his 25th on the season. Markstrom stacked the pads on Toffoli’s initial shot, but Joel Armia was able to give the Habs leading goal scorer a second chance. The Habs led 2-1 after two periods, enduring a late penalty that spilled into the third.

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

The tension mounted in the third as the Canadiens clung to their slim lead, while the Flames felt their playoff hopes flicker. Jeff Petry pounced on a rebound in front of Markstrom, only to get tripped by Flames captain Mark Giordano. The ensuing power play yielded no result, but it drained precious time from the clock. Then a seemingly harmless Giordano wrister from the point hit traffic in front of Allen and bounced off the post. The Flames thought they had a pivotal power play late when the puck went sailing into the seats, but the officials convened and ruled the puck careened off the glass beforehand. After struggling so mightily against the stingy Sutter-led Flames, the Canadiens finally turned the tables in their final meeting of the season. The Flames struggled to create offensive zone pressure as time expired, and despite missing chances with Markstrom pulled, the Canadiens emerged with a 2-1 win.

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Caufield wasn’t handled with kid gloves in his debut: he played 15:40, got four shots and contributed on the power play. Allen entered Monday with a 1-4-0 record and .935 save percentage against Calgary, and despite not getting much support on offence, two goals were enough. Habs fans can exhale, as there’s now separation in the standings heading into a one-off against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday. The Liveblog commenters talked Cole and a whole lot more on Monday:

3. “It would have been nice to see Caufield get a point or two, but maybe it is better for his development that expectations be realistic.” – Marcus Aurelius

2. “Now the big question is do we keep Cole up with the big club or send him down for more development? Habs will be getting healthier soon and the playing time will only benefit Cole when he returns for the play…..offs.” – Joe Raposo

1. “A BIG 2 points; 6 points ahead of Calgary with a game in hand. Now to get the hell out of Alberta A.S.A.P……” – Hermanus Wittebol

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.



Source link

Related posts

Leave a Comment