MONTREAL – With another game against another divisional rival less than 24 hours away, the Canadiens don’t have time to dwell on their loss.
In a 48-game season, it’s no secret how crucial every point can be. With a win on Wednesday, the Habs would have leapt over the Bruins into first place in the Eastern Conference for the first time in five years. Following Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to their longtime rivals, the Canadiens instead head to Buffalo sitting third in the division, about to face a team looking to avenge last Saturday night’s 6-1 romp.
While he would have preferred to see the kind of finish that helped the Canadiens score four or more goals in five of their first eight games of the year, Michel Therrien isn’t worrying about whether his once-explosive offense has suddenly lost its firepower.
“For me, the important thing is that we’re getting quality chances,” explained the Habs head coach, whose players attempted 52 shots on Wednesday, 24 of which were blocked by the Bruins. “It’s going to happen in the NHL where you’re facing a goalie that’s playing really well. It’s not a matter of will; I think we worked hard to create those chances. There are just nights the puck goes in and there are nights the goalie’s going to make the save.”
Despite exploding out of the gate in the first period and holding Boston to just four shots in the opening frame, the two teams headed to the first intermission with zeros across the board. With the exception of the lack of red lights going off behind the opposing net, Therrien is hoping to see more of the same from his team in Buffalo on Thursday.
“It was not a bad performance from our club. I mean, we played the Boston Bruins,” he stressed. “They’re a good team and they’re not easy to play against. You have to fight for every inch. We had a few bad executions but I’m sure we’re going to be better next time.”
P.K. Subban was the lone Hab to beat Tuukka Rask in the outing, spoiling the Bruins’ netminder’s bid for a shutout in the second period. The 23-year-old blue-liner’s power play marker also marked the first time Boston’s penalty killers have allowed a goal on the road all season.
“I think we’ve played great hockey to this point and we’re still learning about what team we’ll be,” shared Subban, who played a season-high 21:23 in ice time against the Bruins. “We’re creating that identity. We knew it was going to be a tight game and we played well; we just came up a little bit short.”
Heading into the night, the Habs were looking at Wednesday’s game as a test. They may not have gotten the result they were hoping for, but they know the lessons they learned will be invaluable when it comes time for the final exam.
“I thought we were great in the first period but then our game slipped away a little bit and they picked it up,” admitted Tomas Plekanec, who assisted on Subban’s first goal of the campaign. “I thought we stopped skating a little bit; stopped moving our feet. We just didn’t put it in the net. We didn’t have enough shots or enough offense.
“We’ve got to learn from it,” he concluded. “The good thing is tomorrow is another game right away. We can start focusing on getting the win tomorrow right now.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
Words from the room
Will Smith Gettin' Jiggy with it at the Bell Centre