Dach scored twice as Montreal downed the Vancouver Canucks 5-2 on Wednesday night for his first two-goal game with the Canadiens. The 21-year-old Dach was traded from the Chicago Blackhawks to Montreal last summer at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft and he said that he's finding chemistry with Cole Caulfield and captain Nick Suzuki on the Habs' top line.
"It’s been a ton of fun," said Dach about playing with Suzuki and Caufield. "We hang out a lot off the ice and at the rink, we’re always talking and letting each other know what each one sees on the ice and maybe different plays we can run.
"The chemistry’s been great, it’s been there right away."
Veteran forward Brendan Gallagher is impressed with Dach just 14 games into the season.
"You can see the talent that he has, he works at it," said Gallagher. "He has a big body, he enjoys being a part of a competitive atmosphere, he enjoys everything the city’s bringing to him and he’s having fun.
"He's playing his game and that’s what you want. It’s exciting to see him, Cole and (Suzuki) work together."
Suzuki, Arber Xhekaj and Dach gave Montreal (7-6-1) a three-goal lead in the first period. Mike Hoffman also scored, for his third goal in two nights before Dach added an insurance goal. Samuel Montembeault made 30 saves for the win.
“I really liked our first period, I think it was one of our best periods from start to finish,” said Habs coach Martin St. Louis. “It’s never easy to play a third period up by four goals because the most dangerous person is the one that has nothing to lose, so they take a lot more chances.
"They were dangerous in the third.”
"Obviously, we know the start wasn't good enough for us tonight," said Bo Horvat. "There's no excuse for the way we started tonight.
"I thought there were parts of our game that I really liked but obviously it wasn't good enough for us tonight all-around."
The Canadiens scored on the power play just 55 seconds into the game. Suzuki took a shot from the point and instantly made the Canucks, who have the league-worst penalty killing efficiency, pay for Tanner Pearson's hooking penalty.
Montreal doubled their lead with another shot from the point as Xhekaj scored his second of the season when his wrister deflected off Pearson and into the net.
Dach added a third Canadiens goal when he stole the puck away from J.T. Miller in Vancouver’s zone and beat Demko, giving Montreal a comfortable 3-0 lead by the first intermission.
"They were coming off a back-to-back and we were coming off a back-to-back so the start was crucial," Dach said. "I feel like through 40 minutes we dedicated the play and we had a good team game going.
"We lifted our foot off the gas in the third a little bit and they capitalized and it was good maturity for our group to lock it down and finish the game up."
Hoffman gave the Canadiens a four-goal lead in the second period. He outpaced Jack Rathbone and gave himself enough space to beat Demko with a wrister. Hoffman also had a pair of goals in Montreal's 3-2 shootout win over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday.
Vancouver finally got on the scoreboard at 4:46 of the third. Schenn’s slap shot from the point whizzed through traffic and beat Montembeault.
Hoglander cut the Canucks’ deficit to two goals by hopping on Montembeault’s rebound and putting away his first goal of the season.
Dach iced the game when Suzuki found him all alone with a cross-ice pass. The 21-year-old took home his second of the night with a wrist shot.
HORVAT STREAK ENDS
Bo Horvat’s hot streak came to an end in Montreal. Horvat recorded at least one point in his last five games and six goals in his last four. In total, the centre picked up eight goals and two assists during that streak.
SUZUKI ON A ROLL
Nick Suzuki scored his sixth goal since Oct. 29, trailing only Buffalo Sabres centre Tage Thompson with seven in that span. Suzuki has now tied Brendan Gallagher for second most in Canadiens' history with a third opening-minute goal. Only Max Pacioretty (five) has more in franchise history.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 9, 2022.
Tristan D'Amours, The Canadian Press