Name of the Wilde: Montreal Canadiens shade Nashville Predators with 4-Three win – Montreal

The Montreal Canadiens invited the Nashville Predators into the Bell Center on PK Subban night.

Montreal was dreadful on Monday night against Seattle in a game that head coach Martin St. Louis called disappointing and embarassing.

On Thursday night, they needed to show much more and they did, with a tight 4-3 win over the Predators.

Wild horses

During the first period against Seattle Monday, the Canadiens were outshot 19-6 and quickly trailed 3-0. They were simply not ready. They flipped the script completely against Nashville in the first period, outshooting the Predators 19-8.

It was the Canadiens’ best period in a long time. What was encourage was who shone as the line of Christian Dvorak, Josh Anderson and Juraj Slafkovsky had the best shift they ever had as a line. They were buzzing and fired shot after shot.

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Slafkovsky had a tremendous look from nine feet, but he was unable to connect for the tally. However, it was an encourage shift, and the club gained momentum from it. Slafkovsky looked strong. He had his best game in the last dozen, looking a lot less tentative and a lot more around the puck.

Slafkovsky also had a defensive shift where he blocked two shots and leveled a big hit. The fans gave him a tremendous ovation. He’s a popular player, and the fans know there is a lot invested in Slafkovsky.

Slafkovsky wasn’t the best player, though. That honor belonged to Jake Evans for the second time this week. Evans scored on a two-on-one for his second goal of the season. He also had a breakaway where he faked a slap shot, then made a slick deke that hit the post.

Jesse Ylonen looked like he wanted to make this visit to the big club last a little longer than last season’s cup of coffee. In his first game of the season for Montreal after the call-up from Laval, Ylonen had a tremendous opportunity with a clear shot in the high slot, but he wasn’t able to count.

It was no matter for Ylonen as he continued his strong effort with an intelligent pass to Kirby Dach. It didn’t even appear that he could have seen Dach beside the net, but he threaded it through two players cross-ice, and Dach had a tap in for the goal.

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It’s this type of rotation to young up-and-coming top prospects, and from veterans who are struggling, that is exciting. As soon as next year, there will be prospects like Ylonen who will get a regular look.

The hope that these prospects can become solid NHL players is more exciting to the fan base than watching veterans who have already peaked.

Fans will see a starting lineup with names like Roy, Farrell, Ylonen, Mesar, Beck, Mailloux, Hutson and more. They’ll be quite a lot more pumped to get to the Bell Center for what that night might bring as they dream of Montreal being a better club.

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One present-day player who never stops exciting the fans is Cole Caufield. His spectacular scoring season continued with another tally for 24 on the season. It was his usual one-timer off the left side. Jonathan Drouin and Nick Suzuki provided assists on the power play goal.

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In the third period, the power play continued to shine as Drouin is at the point is making a big difference. Drouin had three assists in the contest. He had a helper as he fed Dach who fed Caufield who scored a carbon copy of his first goal on the night.

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Caufield is now on pace for 49 goals this season. The sample size is getting larger with more than half a season played as Caufield tries to become the first 40-goal Canadiens player this century.

The last player to hit the 40-goal mark was Vincent Damphousse in 1994. For the big dreamers, the last player to hit the 50-goal plateau for the Canadiens was Stephane Richer in 1990. Caufield must remain healthy, and if he does, we could be in for something very special in the midst of a frustrating season for the team.

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Call of the Wilde

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Wild goats

There were the usual bad defensive plays, but the Canadiens won, and this season, that’s enough to leave this section empty for another day.

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Wild cards

It was tribute night for PK Subban at the Bell Centre, and it went perfectly.

Subban received a standing ovation from Canadien’s fans. Not a single boo was heard. Subban threw the odd French phrase into the speech which, of course, was roundly appreciated.

His speech hit all the right notes. The sentence resonating the best was, “What Montreal fans love most is if you lay it all out there and give it all that you have.” That got a real roar from the fans and even the Canadiens on the bench acknowledged that thought.

During moments of his speech, fans spontaneously chanted “PK” He also said that he never believed being honored in Montreal would ever be possible. He got that right, because if the previous regime was still at the helm, he would not have been honoured.

In fact, the best moment of the entire night was the surprise at the end. In a clear statement to that previous regime led by Michel Therrien, as Subban was leaving the ice, Carey Price popped out and they met each other with their famous triple low five.

That was a special hand slap after a win that Marc Bergevin and Michel Therrien abolished as too showy a gesture. They would not allow the triple low five for the rest of their careers in Montreal.

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After both from management are now gone to a retirement home in Florida for Therrien, and an assistant job in Los Angeles for Bergevin, Subban and Price remain heroes.

That’s the way it goes in sports. The players are first, last and always the heroes.

Brian Wilde, a Montreal-based sports writer, brings you Call of the Wilde on after each Canadiens game.

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Call of the Wilde!

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