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It’s always a trio affair with the Habs
Credit: Capture d'écran / Screenshot

After a few days off, the Canadiens were back in action this afternoon against the Dallas Stars. It was a tough challenge for Martin St-Louis’ troupe, who played well but still lost to a better team.

3-2 victory for the visitors.

It was Evgenii Dadonov’s return to the Bell Centre. The man who played 50 games with the Canadiens didn’t get the warmest of welcomes. In fact, he received none at all. When Michel Lacroix announced the Stars’ starting line-up (and his name was called), there was total silence at the Bell Centre.

Which is worse: to be booed or to be ignored?

I’m leaning towards option number two, personally.

The Russian was quiet. He didn’t collect a point and finished the game with a minus-1 record.

Aside from his performance, here’s what I took away from this hotly contested match.

1. It’s fun to watch the Habs again. In the last two seasons, I can tell you that their game didn’t interest me more than it should have.

This season, the guys are playing well, even if they’re losing. For those of you (myself included) hoping for a regulation-time loss, but a good game, it’s a perfect afternoon, then.

I think it’s too late to dream about Macklin Celebrini, but a top-5 pick isn’t off the table.

Here’s what the reverse rankings look like as of today :

(Credit: Tankathon. )

The Sabres also lost today, and the Senators are still eight points back despite their most recent successes. I’m sorry, but the other four teams (Blue Jackets, Ducks, Sharks and Blackhawks) are unattainable.

2. The team’s first trio is the only one that works. The Nick Suzuki-Cole Caufield-Juraj Slafkovsky trio seems to be the only one producing these days.

The captain scored the first goal of the match. He ended the game with a goal and an assist on the goal of his young Slovak teammate, who, incidentally, scored a goal in his third consecutive game.

But for Suzuki, he’s on track for 76 points. No player on the team has collected that many points since 2006-2007.

He’s excellent.

As for Cole Caufield, he increased his streak of games with at least one point to 11.

He did it all on the first goal of the 14.

We can give credit to this user X for the happy sequence on the 22nd.

Since January 11 (the start of the Caufield sequence), Alex Jodoin has been taking a bite out of Poulet Rouge. He won’t be stopping anytime soon…

3. The first wave of the power play is excellent. The team that ranks sixth in the NHL since the holidays (before today’s games) didn’t score this afternoon, but stayed in offensive territory for most of the power play.

The five-man front line (with four points today), Alex Newhook and Mike Matheson had several scoring chances. Sean who?

In any case, the first wave had better score goals, or at least stay in offensive territory, because the second wave has nothing conclusive…

4. Did you know that Samuel Montembeault is the team’s number-one goalie?

If your answer is “no”, the last two games have certainly convinced you. In Washington on Tuesday, the Quebecer stopped 37 of 39 pucks en route to a 5-2 victory.

Earlier today, despite the loss, he kept his team in the game. He faced 38 shots, stopping 35 of them. Not bad!

Of course, Monty won’t be able to win the game in less than 24 hours, as Jake Allen will be in front of the net.

As Martin St-Louis confirmed after the game, Allen will face his former team.

As for Cayden Primeau, he’ll still have to watch the game from the end of the bench (probably).

He hasn’t played in nearly a month, 24 days to be exact. My colleague Charles-Alexis Brisebois wrote a text summarizing his situation.

One thing’s for sure: he’s got to play, whether here or elsewhere.

5. Alex Newhook was playing his first game since November 30. And he did very well for a guy coming back from a pretty major injury.

In particular, he used his speed very well.

Several journalists noted his efficiency throughout the match on Platform X.

6. Let’s pray for Rafaël Harvey-Pinard. He was another one who had a good game. The Quebecer was playing well alongside Newhook and Armia.

But midway through the second period, misfortune struck. He came into contact with Armia and struggled back to the dressing room. The Canadiens confirmed that their game was over, and we had reason to fear the worst, as Joshua Roy was recalled after the game.

For those who missed it, here’s the sequence:

Incidentally, it was after this contact that the network landed. Moments after the injury, Thomas Harley tied the game and Tyler Seguin gave the Stars the lead 27 seconds later.

Dallas never looked back.

Still, Joel Armia had a strong game, his good game of the week. Late in the third, he had the tying goal at the end of the paddle, but missed the target.

All game, he did a colossal job shorthanded.

Overtime

The Canadiens lacked opportunism, especially late in the game. It wasn’t necessarily Jake Oettinger who was stopping everything, but the players were missing the target.

However, we’ll give credit where credit is due; the Dallas goalie was solid at times.

Brandon Gignac’s speed was evident in this sequence.

Since he’s been in Montreal, he’s clearly out to make a name for himself, and it’s with his speed that he’ll succeed. This afternoon, alongside Michael Pezzetta and Jesse Ylonen, he played an excellent game. He picked up where he left off in Laval and at the Habs camp.

As well as being quick on skates, he’s quick on his feet. It only took him a few minutes to get from the Bell Centre to the Antichambre studio.

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