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A tale of two cities

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

MONTREAL -- Identical scorelines, opposite results. That was the story behind the Habs’ first home-and-home series of the season.

Less than 24 hours ago in New Jersey, the Canadiens battled back from a 2-0 deficit to earn a 3-2 comeback win in a shootout at the Prudential Center. On Saturday it was the Devils’ turn to climb out of a 2-0 hole and complete the comeback in extra time.

“A 2-0 lead with about 10 minutes left… you never want to lose a game like that. They’re a skilled and talented team and they worked really hard to even things up. They had most of their chances in overtime,” admitted Mike Condon, who had a shutout bid going through two-and-a-half periods until Patrik Elias scored the first of three unanswered Devils goals at 11:01 in the third.

The second came with just 0:22 left in regulation.

“I tried to come out to the top of the crease to take away that shot, but I didn’t track the puck very well off of [Mike] Cammalleri’s stick,” continued the rookie netminder, who nevertheless made 53 saves on the 58 shots he faced across two cities over the last 48 hours. “It was knuckling a bit, but that’s a save I need to make for my team. I’ll put that one on me.”

His team begs to differ.

“Those things happen, but they shouldn’t happen to us. We don’t exactly know why. We felt like we had them in a good place, up a goal with 22 seconds left and their goalie pulled,” underlined captain Max Pacioretty, who earned his 12th assist of the season on Alex Galchenyuk’s third-period tally. “It falls on everyone on the team, not just one guy. Now we have to bounce back from it and learn to be better.”

Ironically, the Habs were better on Saturday than they were on Friday, outshooting (32-31 vs. 27-27), outhitting (29-23 vs. 13-34), and outdrawing (43-25 vs. 25-37) the Devils at the Bell Centre.

The power play also clicked to the tune of one-for-two after going zero-for-four with a shorthanded goal allowed in Newark the night prior.

“You’ve got to give them a lot of credit, but we had chances to close the game [and didn’t],” added Pacioretty. “There’s no excuse for that.”

While the end result was no doubt disappointing, a positive takeaway continues to be the impressive play of Galchenyuk, whose fourth career multi-goal game extended his current goal streak to four games.

“I’ve been working hard at practice and in games to get my offense going. I have momentum on my side now and I’m happy to have been chipping in these past couple of games,” offered the 21-year-old forward, who has racked up five goals and seven points in his four outings since November 20 in Brooklyn, including two more tallies on Saturday.

But the career-high four-game goal streak would have certainly tasted a bit sweeter along with a five-game win streak.

“At the end of the day it doesn’t matter,” concluded Galchenyuk. “We lost a game we definitely could have won. Things don’t go your way sometimes but we’ll bounce back.”

Steven Nechay is a writer for

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