It was the stuff Hollywood movies are made of. That’s how you would describe Cole Caufield‘s first career NHL goal with the Montreal Canadiens. It’s just another incredible chapter in a fairytale year for the 20-year-old that will probably end up on the big screen someday.
Trailing 2-0 with 14 minutes to play against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night, the Habs got timely third-period goals from Jeff Petry and Tyler Toffoli to send the game into overtime. Montreal controlled possession throughout the 3-on-3 extra frame until Petry took his chance in the offensive zone and hit Caufield with a perfect pass as he was streaking towards the net. All he had to do was direct it into the open net past Filip Gustavsson. The only thing missing from this memorable moment was 21,273 delirious fans packed in the Bell Centre. Not surprisingly, Caufield struggled to find the words to describe what he had just experienced in his post-game interview.
It was a goal scorer’s goal followed by an appropriately exuberant reaction. Having the presence of mind to sneak behind the defender to find the open space at the net at a crucial time in the game. These are the kind of instincts that Caufield has shown at every level throughout his career and in his four games in the NHL.
“It turned out pretty great for him. He’s had a bunch of opportunities to score and they just haven’t gone in. I was just telling him to stay with it. It’s not a bad first goal to win it in overtime. He’s a scorer and he’s going to be scoring goals for a long time,”. Nick Suzuki said of Caufield’s overtime winner.
Solidifying a Playoff Berth
Perhaps the best part is that it was not only a big goal for Caufield but also the team. It gave the Canadiens their first two-game winning streak since the beginning of February and moved them eight points ahead of the Calgary Flames for the final playoff spot in the North Division with six games to play. They are also just two points behind the third-place Winnipeg Jets.
With no less than six regulars currently out of the lineup, the Habs are getting significant contributions from their young core when they need it most and in the most important games of the season. Caufield, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Alexander Romanov, Suzuki, and Cayden Primeau are putting Montreal’s much-talked-about prospect pool on full display with the big club.
In the past five months, Caufield has won gold at the World Juniors with Team USA, put up 28 goals and 49 points in 30 games to help the Wisconsin Badgers win their first Big Ten Championship in 21 years, accepted the Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA’s top player, signed his first professional contract, scored four points in his first two games in the AHL with the Laval Rocket, played in his first NHL game and now he’s celebrating his first NHL goal. An overtime winner on Saturday night on Hockey Night in Canada.
The first of many for a special player who is hoping to make more history for hockey’s most storied franchise.
Melissa has been covering the Montreal Canadiens for The Hockey Writers since March of 2020. She is also THW’s Social Media Community Manager and a co-host of Chicks & Sticks, a weekly show produced by THW. In 2006, she spearheaded the social media initiatives for Tennis Canada and Rogers Cup and was the primary person responsible for their upkeep for over 10 years. She has written articles for multiple tennis websites and interviewed the likes of Roger Federer and Serena Williams. While her career in sports started in tennis, her first love has always been hockey. She has a journalism degree from Concordia University.