UNIONDALE – After earning points in 11 consecutive games, the Habs will look to start a new streak on Thursday night in Carolina.
The Canadiens' streak of 11 games without a loss in regulation may have come to an end Tuesday night against the Islanders, but that doesn’t take anything away from what the Habs have accomplished. The bottom line is, you can’t always come out on top and despite turning in a solid effort in Uniondale, the Islanders and their fifth-ranked power play got the best of the Eastern Conference-leading Habs.
“The guys all worked extremely hard to try and win this game. We managed to come back from two goals down to tie it. I liked the intensity we brought tonight," expressed Michel Therrien following the Canadiens’ first regulation loss since Feb. 9, clearly proud of the effort his team has produced over the past month.
“You have to be carefully when you’re looking at penalties and indiscipline because sometimes penalties aren’t the player’s fault,” he added, unwilling to assign any blame for the Islanders’ four power play goals on the night. “There’s no way I could tell a player he wasn’t disciplined if I go back and look at the video and realize that he didn’t deserve the call. Sometimes the guys are just battling hard for the puck and end up with a penalty.”
One silver lining that came out of the match was captain Brian Gionta appropriately being the player to score the 20,000th goal in the history of the Canadiens in the NHL. While clearly honoured, the final score obviously made for a bittersweet moment for the Rochester native who netted his fourth goal in as many games with the milestone marker and tied the game for the Habs in the third frame.
“It’s always nice with the history of the organization when you get to be a part of it in that way, but we’re looking at today and this was a tough game for us. We did a lot to keep ourselves in it, but we can’t be giving out two goal leads,” shared Gionta, while also giving full credit to the Isles’ for their performance. “They’re a dangerous team that has a lot of offensive power that you need to be aware of and their power play is pretty good too. We got caught up kind of playing their game and not initiating enough, we took some penalties and let through some goals.”
Getting the Canadiens on the board first with his sixth game-opening marker of the 2012-13 campaign, center Tomas Plekanec echoed his captain’s sentiments from across the visitor’s dressing room at Nassau Coliseum.
“I feel like we did a pretty good job tonight. When we came out in the second period we were kind of flat. We tried to put the puck on the net as much as we could, but we didn’t always get the bounces and that just happens sometimes,” offered Plekanec. “It’s never a good feeling when you lose a game, whether it’s at the end of a streak or not. A loss is a loss.”
Don’t expect the Canadiens to dwell on the loss for long, especially with a chance to start a new streak right around the corner when they face the Hurricanes in Carolina on Thursday night.
“We can’t win them all, and we just went 11 games without losing in regulation,” concluded Therrien. “The guys played with intensity, they worked hard, the results just didn’t work out for us tonight.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com. ALSO SEE:Game Highlights: Canadiens-IslandersPostgame: Canadiens-IslandersBoxscore: Canadiens-Islanders
The Numbers Game - March 5, 2013