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Victory: First line takes care of Florida Panthers
Credit: Capture d'écran / Screenshot

The Montreal Canadiens’ season is drawing to a close, as the month of April has begun.

Before tonight’s game, the Tricolore had just nine games left to play before the end of the season.

Martin St-Louis’ team had a 28-33-12 record before welcoming the Florida Panthers to the Bell Centre.

Here’s the Habs line-up for Tuesday night’s game:

There’s only one change in the lineup, and it’s on defense.

Defenseman Kaiden Guhle was back after serving his one-game suspension last Saturday.

Johnathan Kovacevic was passed over for the match.

For the Panthers, the excellent Matthew Tkachuk (ill) was not in the line-up.

It took 10 minutes to see the first goal as the Panthers opened the scoring.

Young Anton Lundell skillfully foiled Samuel Montembeault.

But the Habs didn’t have long to wait before striking back.

Just 56 seconds later, Joel Armia took Michael Pezzetta’s return shot to tie the game.

Let’s just say that since the first goal, the offensive festival seemed to have officially begun.

Finland’s Aleksander Barkov gave his team back the lead when he easily beat Montembeault alone in front of the net.

He continues to perform well against the Sainte-Flanelle, having scored 24 goals and 22 assists in just 35 games prior to tonight’s match.

The Tricolore had the chance to play 5-on-3, but couldn’t quite get it going.

The Habs have yet to score in 5-on-3 situations this season.

Let’s just say it’s not great.

At the very end of the period, at the end of the double power play, there was a scrum in front of the Panthers’ net, and Slafkovsky was at the heart of it. The Slovakian took on none other than the colossal Aaron Ekblad.

With the score 2-1 in Florida’s favor, the two teams headed back to the locker room.

In the second period, Brendan Gallagher thought he had scored the goal he knows so well: in front of the net.

The goal was initially disallowed, before being replayed on video.

After this review, the goal was awarded, but the referee who announced the correct goal eventually changed his mind, saying there had been a lack of communication, and finally disallowed Gallagher’s goal.

Obviously, on X (Twitter), there were a lot of comments about this goal.

Check out these two tweets, I laughed out loud.

I thought it was pretty ordinary, as I myself was sure it wasn’t going to be granted.

Captain Nick Suzuki responded in the best way possible: with his 31st goal of the season.

He also reached the 70-point plateau this season.

Just over six minutes after his 31st of the season, Suzuki scored his second goal of the period.

On this goal, Mike Matheson and Alex Newhook were credited with an assist on the power play.

That made it 3-2 in favor of the Habs after 40 minutes of play.

To start the third period, Cole Caufield and Jake Evans scored quickly to make it 5-2.

Let’s just say Caufield’s goal will do him a world of good.

Juraj Slafkovsky picked up an assist and continues to perform well.

As for Evans’ goal, it was scored in a shorthanded situation.

With about six minutes left in the game, there was a lot of hullabaloo and several penalties were called on the sequence.

Penalties: Nick Cousins got two minutes for roughing Jake Evans. Jake Evans also received two minutes for roughing. Finally, Kyle Okposo also received two minutes for roughing.

On top of all that, Brendan Gallagher and Nick Cousins each received a 10-minute match suspension.

With just over a minute to play in the third period, Sam Bennett cut the deficit to 5-3 on a power play.

In the end, it was a 5-3 victory for the Canadiens.

Samuel Montembeault was solid in net against his former team, stopping 37 of 40 shots. It was his first win against the team that drafted him.

The Tricolore’s next game is Thursday night, April 4, when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning.


– Before tonight’s game, Cole Caufield has just three goals in his last 25 games. He’ll need to regain his touch fairly quickly, ideally yesterday, to avoid attracting too many detractors, as he has just 20 goals this season. Even though he’s improved in many other facets of his game, he can’t afford to score so few goals, being paid close to $8 million a season to put it in.

– Interestingly, the Panthers dominated the Tricolore in the face-off circle with a 65% efficiency rate.

– There were no fewer than 11 power plays in total in the game, seven of which went to the Canadiens. Only Suzuki’s second goal was scored on the power play. My excellent colleague Marc-Olivier Cook took the time to take a photo of the Panthers’ penalty box at the end of the game, and it looked like this:

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