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Canada starts 2024 with a bang

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Canada starts 2024 with a bang
After suffering an uninspiring defeat at the hands of the Sabres on Thursday night, the Canadiens were back in action this evening, taking on the New York Rangers at the Bell Centre.

For the occasion, the Canadiens returned to a line-up of 12 forwards and six defensemen. Johnathan Kovacevic skipped his turn, while young Emil Heineman was in the lineup.

Heineman was on the left of Sean Monahan and Jesse Ylönen on the team’s third line.

As for the Rangers, Igor Shesterkin was enjoying a night off, while Jonathan Quick was in net for his team tonight.

Here’s the complete line-up for the visitors:

In the first period, the Habs played some excellent hockey against the team in second place overall in the NHL standings. It got its scoring chances… and took advantage of them.

Brendan Gallagher, who hadn’t scored in nearly two months, found the back of the net with a wrist shot.

On the other side, Samuel Montembeault was solid. He turned aside all 14 Rangers shots to maintain the Canadiens’ lead.

After 20 minutes, the Habs were ahead 1-0.

The second period saw some extremely enjoyable hockey. Both teams scored goals galore, and the pace was exciting.

Early in the period, it was the Tricolore who still had the wind in their sails. First, Sean Monahan deflected Jesse Ylönen’s shot to double his team’s lead.

Then it was Joel Armia’s turn to find the back of the net with a magnificent shot past the alert Jonathan Quick.

Suddenly, the Tricolore had a three-goal lead against one of the best teams in the league. Nothing less.

On the other hand, it would have been wrong of the Rangers to think they’d give up. Even though Montembeault was extremely solid, the Rangers ended up wearing him down, twice rather than once in the second period.

It started with Vincent Trocheck, who deflected a shot from Habs alumnus Erik Gustafsson behind the home goalie.

Then, after scoring, Trocheck was an accomplice to Artemi Panarin’s goal.

The Habs’ lead was now just one short goal.

After 40 minutes, the score was 3-2 in favor of Montreal.

And in the third, what had to happen happened: in the middle of the period, Adam Fox beat Montembeault to bring everyone back to square one.

The Habs enjoyed good scoring chances afterwards, but hit the post twice (Nick Suzuki and Mike Matheson were the victims).

Overtime was finally needed to decide the tie after Jonathan Quick was a wall in the final minute of the third.

In overtime, both teams got their chances, but the goalkeepers held the fort. Montembeault was phenomenal, while Quick was equally solid.

So we needed the shootout.

Nick Suzuki and Artemi Panarin were unable to score in the first round.

Cole Caufield found the back of the net in the second round, while Mika Zibanejad was frustrated by a spectacular save by Montembeault.

In the third round, Jesse Ylönen was unable to complete his maneuver… but Montembeault turned away another Rangers shot (this time, from Alexis Lafrenière) to confirm his team’s victory.

Clearly a Montembeault victory.

Final score: 4-3 Montreal (TDB)

The Canadiens return to action on Wednesday night, when they travel to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers.

Overtime

– Samuel Montembeault turned aside a total of 49 shots tonight, including shootouts. I know there are three goalies in town, but tonight’s game proved one thing: Montembeault is #1 and he needs to play like a #1.

– Kaiden Guhle had a very tough game tonight. These things happen against good teams… but these tough games are more common than they’ve ever been for #21.

– Speaking of Montembeault, P.K. Subban didn’t hesitate to say he’s the real deal. Still!

– Nice play by Juraj Slafkovský in the first period.

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