Canadiens beat Jets 3-2 in Winnipeg on OT goal by Justin Barron

Canadiens beat Jets 3-2 in Winnipeg on OT goal by Justin Barron

Canadiens beat Jets 3-2 in Winnipeg on OT goal by Justin Barron

Juraj Slafkovsky held off scoresheet again, but coach Martin St. Louis is seeing progress from 19-year-old who was No. 1 overall draft pick.

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It has been seven games now since Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis put Juraj Slafkovsky on the No. 1 line with Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield and also put him on the first power-play unit.

Slafkovsky, the No. 1 overall pick at the 2022 NHL Draft, has only one assist in those seven games, but St. Louis likes what he’s seeing from the 19-year-old winger.

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Slafkovsky was held off the scoresheet Monday night when the Canadiens beat the Jets 3-2 in overtime in Winnipeg.

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Josh Anderson and Christian Dvorak scored for the Canadiens in regulation time and Justin Barron scored the OT winner on a power play. Dvorak’s goal, which gave the Canadiens a 2-0 lead at 15:04 of the second period, also came on a power play as the Canadiens went 2-for-3 with the man advantage.

Gabriel Vilardi and Cole Perfetti scored for the Jets.

The Jets outshot the Canadiens 32-26 with goalie Jake Allen making 30 saves for the win, improving his record to 4-6-2 with a 3.43 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage. It was Allen’s first win in his last eight starts (1-6-1), but the Canadiens have only scored 16 goals in those eight games.

The Canadiens improved their record to 14-13-4 — including 7-4-2 on the road — and they are 3-1-1 in their last five games, while the Jets fell to 18-10-2.

“I feel like as a group we’re locked in right now,” St. Louis told reporters in Winnipeg after the game. “I really do feel that way. It’s the most organized that we’ve been since I’ve taken this job and it takes time to build that in different parts of the game. We’re able to expand on some of the details inside the different concepts, different parts of the game that we want to address. So I think we’re just evolving as a team, but as a group I feel we’re really locked in.”

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The Canadiens will be back in action Thursday when they visit the Minnesota Wild (8 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

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Slafkovsky logged 20:06 of ice time against the Jets with no shots and three hits.

“I think Juraj’s finding some consistency,” St. Louis told reporters after Monday’s morning skate. “From the beginning of the season, his details on both sides of the puck, off the puck, have been very mature. It’s rare you see that with a 19-year-old.”

Slafkovsky has 2-6-8 totals this season and going back to last season he has two goals in his last 52 games. There are more than 370 players in the NHL with more than two goals this season.

“I know everybody’s probably more focused on the goals and assists that he might get, but I think his foundation for a long success for him starts with the details that he has right now in his game and he’s playing with two offensive players and he’s complementing them really well,” St. Louis said about Slafkovsky. “There’s plenty of nights where you leave the game and it’s like Slaf was so good tonight and you might not see it in the goals and assists, but you know in not too long these nights when he’s so good they’re going to turn into a couple of points for him — two, three points a night. He’s trying to do it not at the expense of not being detailed off the puck. I think it’s rare that you see that from a 19-year-old.”

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One player who has started scoring is Anderson, who has three goals in the last two games, giving him four on the season. There are now only five Canadiens forwards who have more goals than Anderson: Sean Monahan (nine), Caufield (eight), Suzuki (eight), Alex Newhook (seven) and Brendan Gallagher (five).

Dvorak now has three goals this season after scoring in a second straight game following a 17-game stretch without any goals. Barron’s goal was his sixth and the 24th by a Canadiens defenceman this season. It came with Barron’s brother, Morgan, a centre with the Jets, on the opposing team and with their parents watching from the stands.

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One area where Slafkovsky has impressed St. Louis is on the forecheck, which the coach said has resulted in him helping his linemates get pucks back in their possession. Suzuki has 1-5-6 totals in the last seven games, while Caufield has 1-2-3 totals after they both picked up an assist against the Jets.

“It’s not something that’s fun,” St. Louis said about forechecking. “But it’s very important and you have to do those things that are not fun and you got to do them like you love them and understand how it’s a domino effect of what’s next.

“Slaf has turned the corner, not just now,” the coach added. “I feel like this year a lot less hesitation where last year I feel there was hesitation because he wanted to please, he wanted to do what he thinks he’s supposed to do.”

That would be score goals.

St. Louis believes that’s going to come.

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