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In Hainsight: New York Needed the Points

April 12, 2024, 12:06 PM ET [202 Comments]
Karine Hains
Montreal Canadiens Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Follow me @KarineHains for all updates about the Montreal Canadiens and women's hockey

Had it not been for Samuel Montembeault’s performance, the Canadiens would have been out of the game quite early on. While the Canadiens’ goaltender received 31 shots, the Islanders’ backup Semyon Varlamov, was only tested 14 times. Montreal was dominated on all fronts, the Isles were always first on the puck, won more faceoffs, and were just the better team overall. The win allows Patrick Roy’s men to keep their three-point lead over the Penguins and four-point lead over the Capitals, Red Wings, and Flyers.

In the loss, Mike Matheson got his 60th point of the season, Cole Caufield his 25th goal, and Nick Suzuki got one point closer to the 80-point mark. For once, the Habs’ first lane center struggled at the face-off dot, only winning 40% of his duels while Alex Newhook had a 33% success rate. As for Juraj Slafkovsky, he had a golden chance to win the game for the Canadiens on a two-on-one with Suzuki in overtime, but after the captain passed the puck to him, he elected to pass it back rather than take a shot.

Unsurprisingly, Brendan Gallagher had to drop the gloves to answer for his hit to Adam Pelech’s head in the last game against the two sides. Thankfully for the alternate captain, it wasn’t against one of the Islanders’ heavyweights, but against Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Even if the Quebecer isn’t known for his pugilistic abilities, he still rained a flurry of punches on Gallagher who only got a shot in once Pageau was down on the ice…not a great look for number 11.

With that win, New York now has 6 wins in a row and with only three games remaining in their regular season, chances are they’ll manage to qualify as the third-place time in the Metropolitan division. Patrick Roy appears in complete control of his team and his players are hearing the coach’s message loud and clear. One of the main changes Roy made to the line-up since taking charge was to bump up Casey Cizicas from the fourth line to the first, and he was the one who tied up the game in the third frame, forcing overtime. Then, Kyle Palmieri sealed the deal for New York with his 28th goal of the season.

Before the end of the Canadiens’ game, Lane Hutson and Luke Tuck were eliminated from the Frozen Four when Boston University lost its semifinal 2-1 to the Denver Pioneers. While Hutson was kept off the scoresheet, Tuch opened the score on the night with a shorthanded marker. The senior’s NCAA career is over, and the Canadiens hold his rights until August 15th, if they don’t sign him, he’ll become a free agent.

As for Lane Hutson, while he could go back for another year in the NCAA, Kent Hughes has repeatedly said he expected him to sign his entry-level contract at the end of the current season. The Canadiens’ GM was in attendance for yesterday’s game as his son Jack Hughes also plays for Boston University, but I bet he arrived with an entry-level contract ready to be signed in his briefcase. After the game, when asked about leaving BU to join the Canadiens, the defenseman replied: “Not sure yet. I guess we’ll see.” Still, I believe when the dust settles on the loss, he’ll put pen to paper.

As for the other two Habs prospects involved in the Frozen Four, they both made the final. Sam Harris plays for Denver, so he was on the right side of the overtime decision while goaltender Jacob Fowler shut out Michigan State to guide Boston College to a 4-0 win. With Ryan Leonard, Will Smith and Gabe Perreault, BC has a lot of firepower and they’ll be hoping to triumph Saturday when they take on Denver at 6:00 PM.

As for the Canadiens, they’ll also play on Saturday against the Senators in Ottawa. The Sens currently have 74 points while the Canadiens have got 73 points, meaning the match-up could have a big influence on the final standings and, of course, on the draft lottery odds for both teams.
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