June 9, 2023
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In the Habs Room: “I thought it was Slaf’s best game,” says Martin St. Louis

Juraj Slafkovsky scores first NHL power-play goal but is more impressed by Christian Dvorak’s “jubilation” after his hat-trick.

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ST. LOUIS — Juraj Slafkovsky loved Christian Dvorak’s celebration after he completed his first NHL hat-trick in the Canadians’ 7-4 win over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night.

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In fact, it was Dvorak’s failure to celebrate after scoring his third goal of the third period – and his third of the season – into an empty net at 18:25 that impressed Slafkovsky.

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“It’s crazy,” said the 18-year-old rookie of Dvorak’s cool reaction after his third goal. “I don’t know which is better… the hat-trick or the celly. The coldest cell I’ve ever seen, just standing in the corner and nothing. I’d party, but this is Devo. I really like that.”

Dvorak had a small smile on his face in the dressing room after the game.

“It definitely felt good,” he said. “I got chirped by the guys because I wasn’t smiling or anything. So they’re all over me.”

The Canadiens were all over the blues after falling 3-1 down midway through the second half — particularly on the power play as they went 2-3. Cole Caufield and Slafkovsky scored the power play goals. Caufields was his second goal of the game. Nick Suzuki also scored for the Canadians.

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Early in the game, the Canadians were 1:24 on the power play in their first eight games.

Slafkovsky had a much bigger cheer than Dvorak with a big fist bump after scoring his second goal in the NHL. The No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NHL draft had missed the previous three games with an upper-body injury, and this was the first game in which head coach Martin St. Louis used him on the second power play session.

“I thought it was Slaf’s best game,” St. Louis said. “Not because he scored, not because he’s on the power play. I feel like every shift he’s gotten like he’s arrived on base. Every shift he got he came on base and had his home run ball on that power play and he took advantage of it and scored.

“He played very well physically tonight,” added the coach of the six-foot-tall, 238-pound player. “Like I said, it’s a process with Slaf at 18. He’s got a nice skill set but he needs to figure out what kind of player he’s going to be in this league, what style he needs to play. He’s going through that right now and tonight we saw what we have in a big boy for an 18 year old and he played like a big boy tonight.

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Slafkovsky’s power-play goal was a great one-time blaster from the top of the faceoff circle.

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“For me, the power play is all about: Where’s the advantage?” St. Louis said. “Of course we’re five against four, but where’s the advantage on the ice and that’s changing all the time. Can you figure out the five guys where’s the advantage now? Because in three seconds, five seconds it can be different where the advantage lies, and you have to recognize that and play into where the advantage lies. I thought we did that tonight.”

Caufield said the power play was executed well. When asked what the Canadians did to finally realize the man advantage, he said coldly, “The game plan. I’ll leave it at that.”

Caufield’s power-play goal came from an incredible Suzuki pass. Caufield described it as “Spooky Suzuki”.

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“I know he’s over there somewhere,” Suzuki said of Caufield, who has seven goals in nine games this season and is second in the NHL to the Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid, who has nine . “He’s always ready to shoot . Its firing radius is quite large for its size. Just bring it to this page. Saw him coming downhill. Had a nice seam with a little pickaxe in front. That’s a good powerplay goal.”

Suzuki added that two power-play goals against a team that finished fifth in the NHL on penalties last season with an 84.1 percent win rate should give the Canadians a boost.

The three goals for Dvorak should also give him a boost.

“Sometimes the puck doesn’t bounce in your direction,” he said. “You can’t get frustrated when that happens. Hang in there and things will turn.”

Now Dvorak just has to work on his goal celebration.

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