Rare win for the Canadian against the Panthers: When Nick Suzuki stands up to Aleksander Barkov

Every time the Canadian faces the Panthers, parallels are drawn between Aleksander Barkov and Nick Suzuki. Martin St-Louis made sure to bring it up when a colleague dared to ask a question on the subject.

Should we really blame ourselves? Since Guy Carbonneau's heyday, the Canadiens captain has been the closest role model to the definition of a winner of the Selke Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL's best defensive forward. Award that Barkov won in 2021 and for which he was a finalist the following season.

In addition, the recent winners of this trophy do not meet nearly the same conditions as in the Carbonneau era, when the focus was almost exclusively on defensive skills.

Photo credit: AFP Photo

From now on, the candidates not only have to limit the opponent's chances of scoring, both when outnumbered and evenly matched, but also maintain a certain pace.

On Tuesday, Suzuki ticked all those boxes in a 5-3 win over the Panthers, who were without Matthew Tkachuk and Carter Verhaeghe (and, for the final 40 minutes, Aaron Ekblad).

Undisputed leader

Suzuki was used in all aspects of the game by St-Louis and increased his priority at the top of Canada's goal scorers by scoring his 31st and 32nd goals of the season. He reached the plateau of 70 points.

Nick Suzuki goal against the Panthers – 02/04/24 –

Nick Suzuki's second goal against the Panthers – February 4, 2024 –

“Nick has had some difficult confrontations recently. Every time he answers the call. He's our captain for a reason because he always stands up. “He did it again tonight,” praised Jake Evans.

“Barkov is a very good player, but Nick is in his zone right now,” Cole Caufield said. They are unique, even though there are similarities between the two. I am very happy to have Nick on my team. He is incredible in every game and continues to improve. »

He did an impeccable job on the four penalty kicks in which he was used.

Goal by Cole Caufield against the Panthers – 02/04/2024 –

The only downside to his evening work was the bully circle. Suzuki was completely eaten up because he only won five of the 18 duels (28%) he entered.

Who was in front of him most of the time? Barkov himself. The Finn was ruthless and won seven of the ten confrontations.

“He is so physically strong. Suzuki, the first star of the match, also analyzed that he had quick hands and a quick stick. I tried to find an advantage that would make the difference as the game progressed. »

Speaking of defensive play, Montreal was without a man for the fifth time in the last six games. Two of these key players even achieved the goal. Jake Evans, right outnumbered, and Joel Armia.

Brandon Montour takes his anger out on Brendan Gallagher –

It was the 14the Armia's goal of the season, his 12the with the same strength. In this column, the Canadian is only ahead of Suzuki (21) and Caufield (13).

Right at the start of the third period, he hit the goal for the second time in 20 games.

Confusion at the top

Linesman Jonny Murray was one of the few officials to play 1,500 games in the NHL. However, he wasn't the one who got the attention.

Eric Furlatt allowed Brendan Gallagher to score before he parried him for a few seconds. A picturesque situation caused by poor communication between the officials present at the Bell Center rink and those in charge of video recordings based in Toronto.

Brendan Gallagher's goal against the Panthers – 02/04/24 –

Let's say it's rare for 21,000 people to go from euphoria to desolation in such a short period of time.

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Darren Pena

Avid beer trailblazer. Friendly student. Tv geek. Coffee junkie. Total writer. Hipster-friendly internet practitioner. Pop culture fanatic.

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