Two days removed from eliminating the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 7 game stunner, the Montreal Canadiens opened the second round with a bang defeating the Winnipeg Jets 5-3.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi who has had a large contingency of doubters throughout his young NHL career continued his stellar postseason performance getting the Habs on the board early on in the contest. From there, Eric Staal would net his first of the postseason and Nick Suzuki would restore the 2 goal lead after Adam Lowry scored for the Jets to end the first period up 3-1.
Hardly the start the Winnipeg Jets envisioned after easily dispatching the Edmonton Oilers in the opening round of the playoffs, the Jets largely looked frustrated particulary Mark Scheifele who has landed himself in hot water for his dirty hit on Jake Evans who sealed the 5-3 victory. After a back and forth third period that saw the Jets get themselves back into the game with a late goal form Kyle Connor, the Canadiens shut the door and Evans slammed it shut before being slammed himself to the ice by Scheifele. While the hit was not high or targeting the head, Scheifele was a cruise missile charging from the other side of the ice and without any regard for the puck or preventing the empty net goal. Instead, he launched all of his frustrations in Evans who had to be stretchered off the ice. Scheifele who was assessed a charging major and game misconduct for the play is likely to face some games off due to suspension. While Scheifele is not a noted dirty player by any means, he has found himself noticeably frustrated in previous postseasons and taken off his game with the end results not being favorable for the Jets. One can only imaging how difficult life will be for him once he gets back later in this series as I can’t imagine more than a 3 or 4 game suspension unless the Habs wrap it up sooner.
While the series is just getting underway, the Canadiens find themselves at a huge advantage going forward. On Kotkaniemi, he continues to shine and show up in big moments and Corey Perry continues to be a playoff boost that lives strong with the veteran’s career. Suzuki himself has continued to by dynamic with Cole Caufield and him providing an extra punch for the lineup that is going to be a tough problem to solve.
The Canadiens are buzzing and if Carey Price can continue his playoff performance, Winnipeg is going to have a real tough problem trying to come out of the North. For the Canadiens, they are rising to the occasion and are paying reminiscent of earlier in the season which had them among the best of the best. They’ve already dispatched one of those teams so there is no reason the Canadiens can’t pull off another series win here if all the parts to the engine are running as they are.
On a good note regarding Evans, he was seen today walking at the rink which is a great sign. Also kudos to Nikolai Ehlers for protecting him in the scrum and not jumping to the aid of Scheifele.Embed from Getty Images