MONTREAL – The Canadian had several reasons for wanting to win his final game of the 2021-22 season and he did it big time, offering a light balm to fans after a heinous campaign.
Jordan Harris, Mike Hoffman and Cole Caufield scored in their first three shots on goal when the Montreal side defeated the Florida Panthers 10-2 on Friday night at the Bell Center.
The Panthers, winners of the Presidents’ Trophy for best team in the NHL during the regular season, had given several stars of the team a break.
Forwards Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov and Claude Giroux were notably excluded. Furthermore, striker Anton Lundell and defender Gustav Forsling were not rushed to the track even though they were in uniform.
Poor Jonas Johansson, third in the Panther goalkeeper hierarchy, has been sent to the slaughterhouse.
The Canadian’s players thus managed a fireworks display for the last game of the career of equipment manager Pierre Gervais after 35 years in the organization.
They also offered Carey Price’s first win in five starts since his return to the game on April 15.
“I think this win is of special value to him,” said Canadiens’ interim coach Martin St-Louis, who confirmed his goal of returning behind the bench next season. Carey wanted to return at the end of the season. In the first games he received no attacking support.
“The best players are usually very hard on themselves. To end up like this, I’m happy for him. “
Caufield used the night to score a first career hat-trick.
Brendan Gallagher, Christian Dvorak, Jake Evans and Mathieu Perreault each scored a goal and an assist, while Tyler Pitlick also scored the target for the Canadiens (22-49-11), who had their worst season since 1939-40 .
Despite everything, at the end of the meeting the spectators cheered for their favorites.
“The fact that the fans have supported us despite the difficult times, we appreciate it enormously,” said St-Louis. We heard it tonight, it was our way of saying thank you. We had to finish strong for them and that’s what we did. “
Ben Chiarot and Noel Acciari offered the timid reply of the Panthers (58-18-6). Johansson made 27 saves.
The Canadian, who closes the season 32nd and last in the NHL overall standings, will proceed to the end-of-season report on Saturday morning. Chief Executive Kent Hughes will be among the speakers.
The last will be the first
The Canadian quickly made his way to go. Harris kicked things off with his first NHL goal at 1:57 into the match. Hoffman walked away at 4:18, then Caufield scored his first goal of the night just 12 seconds later.
Gallagher returned to office at 12:23 pm, in power play, after a cross pass from Perreault.
The Canadian’s lead could have been even greater after 20 minutes, but Alexander Romanov reached the post, then Evans ran into Johansson moments later.
Chiarot gave the Panthers a glimmer of hope by closing the lead at 4-1 with 1:37 left in the first period, but Caufield threw the ball after 1:33 in the second period.
Perreault then scored from the faceoff circle at 3:55. Evans and Dvorak also scored before the end of the second period, continuing to use the Panthers’ generosity to boost their stats.
Caufield completed his hat-trick at 8:12 in the third period, then Pitlick scored his first goal of the season 1:39 later.
With a “10” on the board, the spectators started celebrating, chanting “Guy! Boy! Boy!” in honor of Guy Lafleur, who passed away on April 22.
“I have always believed in higher forces, in the gods of hockey. It’s rare to have 10. I’m happy for him, ”St-Louis said.
Acciari added the Panthers’ second goal at 5:05 from the clock. He didn’t spoil the party at the Bell Center.
Echoes of the changing rooms
Cole Caufield was very happy to see the end of the season on a positive note.
“The evening was enjoyable for everyone. We were playing for important members of the organization. It’s a great way to end the season. “
Caufield said he could be proud to have changed things after a very difficult start to the campaign.
“It was frustrating and it was hard to hear the negative comments about me. I learned a lot, about perseverance, about the need to find motivation in yourself.
Equipment manager Pierre Gervais spoke highly of Carey Price.
“It is the best day of my life since my four children were born. I am happy for the players, for Martin St-Louis and for the coaches. I am very, very, very happy for Carey Price. He is an extraordinary man. He forgets the goalkeeper, the fact that he is the best in the world. I often confronted him early in the morning in the locker room. He is an extraordinary boy “.
Pierre Gervais also praised the organization of the Canadiens.
“The years have gone by so quickly. And they went well because the Canadian’s organization is extraordinary. The Molson family and the Gillett family, before, people don’t realize how every day they want to win, they put all their efforts to win. It doesn’t always work, but you have to be inside the organization to know that every day they want to win, they want the fans to be happy. “