MONTREAL – Following 190 minutes of shutout hockey, 40 turned out to be the difference between another two points on Sunday.
Getting off to a quick start with a pair of goals from Alex Galchenyuk before the game was even five minutes old, the Habs played an almost perfect opening frame opposite the visiting Arizona Coyotes on Super Bowl Sunday, before learning a valuable lesson in the final two.
“It wasn’t our best game by any means. Although we had a good start, we got away from it. We’ve got to learn that no matter what team you’re playing in this league, you’ve got to play a full 60,” prescribed P.K. Subban after watching the Coyotes storm back with three unanswered goals for the franchise’s first regulation win in Montreal in over 29 years. “There are going to be some nights where you can get away with playing 40, maybe 50, but on most nights you’ve got to play 60 minutes to get two points.”
Coming off a five-game winning streak which included decisions over some of the NHL’s top teams, including the Predators and Islanders, as well as last year’s playoff foes, the New York Rangers, Sunday’s loss to the 27th-place Coyotes wasn’t an easy one to explain, but one thing was clear as the team now prepares for the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday.
“Some of these games are tough to figure out,” admitted Subban, whose 27:04 of ice time led all players at the Bell Centre. “What I do know is that we weren’t the same team in the second and the third that we were in the first. Whatever that reason was, we better figure it out, but at the same time we did some things well. We had some opportunities to score that just didn’t go in, but I don’t think we played a full 60 minutes, that’s for sure. We want to play a full 60 minutes, which we didn’t do today. That’s the lesson. Play a full 60.”
Although the Canadiens’ streak of perfect periods came to an end opposite the Coyotes, there were no fingers to point between the pipes.
“Dustin [Tokarski] was good throughout the game. I’m sure he’d like to have the second goal back, but he’s certainly not the reason we lost today,” confided head coach Michel Therrien in his backup netminder who made 29 saves in his tenth start of the season on Sunday. “We can’t read too much into it. We had a tough week ahead of us and we were in position to rack up four wins out of four before finally ending up with three. That’s the way I see it.”
Oliver Ekman-Larsson drew Arizona even with an unassisted goal from a sharp angle 32 seconds into the third period, beating Tokarski with a bouncing puck that snuck through the 25-year-old’s pads.
“It was a bad goal, it was a momentum changer – and it probably won’t be the last one – but it’s all about making the next save. It’s about bouncing back and I thought the guys fought hard at the end to try to tie it up,” acknowledged Tokarski, who saw the Habs make eight shot attempts in a busy final two minutes with the extra attacker. “I think that was the momentum changer. Now it’s up to us to regroup.”Steven Nechay is a writer for canadiens.com
The Numbers Game - February 1st, 2015
Change is good
Feels like April