ST. LOUIS -- When you outshoot your opponent by a 49-22 margin, you generally expect to come out on the right side of the score sheet. That wasn’t the case on Saturday night.
For a second straight game, Michel Therrien’s troops threw everything they conceivably could at an All-Star netminder, but failed to walk away with two points in the standings. This time around, it was St. Louis Blues netminder Brian Elliott who stymied the CH, pacing Ken Hitchcock’s contingent to a 4-3 overtime victory at Scottrade Center.
It’s safe to say this loss hurt particularly bad, especially because Tomas Plekanec had given the Canadiens a 3-2 lead with 6:09 remaining in regulation time, only to see that advantage evaporate just 44 seconds later when Ty Rattie scored the equalizer to force an extra frame.
“We have to win that game. Just sitting here thinking what to say, there’s nothing other than we have to win that game. Up 3-2 with six minutes left, we cannot lose that game,” offered captain Max Pacioretty, who scored his 18th goal of the season in Saturday night’s defeat. “Good teams win that game. Average teams win that game. We have to be a good team, and we have to be a good team quickly and find ways to win games.”
One thing’s for certain – the Canadiens came to play in their lone regular season visit to Missouri. They were the dominant team in the first period, and during a wild second period, they went about their business with the type of emotion and feistiness needed to best teams like the Blues, outshooting them 22-7 in the middle frame. Therrien’s squad matched St. Louis’ intensity with a physical and aggressive response of its’ own, but in the end it just wasn’t meant to be.
“We did some good things, but the end result was that we lost. We lost the game. We’ve got to be better. We’ve got to find ways to win. That’s what it comes down to. Nobody likes losing. Nobody wants to lose in here. That was the result tonight. We’ve got to fix it [on Sunday against Chicago]. It’s as simple as that,” admitted Brendan Gallagher, who was one of three Canadiens players to amass at least seven shots on Elliott during the tilt, as Plekanec and P.K. Subban managed to do the same.
“We have to forget about this one, as much as it hurts,” added the Canadiens’ No. 11. “We have to move on and find a way to win [against the Blackhawks]. It’s not going to be easy. It was an emotional game. They found a way to win and we didn’t. It sucks.”
In any loss, though, mistakes – no matter how small – can ultimately come back to burn you. To a man, that’s something the Canadiens didn’t shy away from discussing in the aftermath of a loss than was nothing short of a bitter pill to swallow.
“It’s just details, tiny little things that we didn’t do that cost us the game,” admitted Lars Eller. “I think we did a lot of good things. I guess it’s hard to look at it that way right now, though. Once we distance ourselves a little bit from it, that’s how I guess we have to look at it.”
Subban – who scored the Canadiens’ opening goal of the game – shared similar thoughts before the team boarded its charter flight to the Windy City.
“It’s tough. We don’t drop games like this. We definitely deserved that point. I think we deserved two, but we have to understand that right now, in the second half, these next 38 games, teams are playing their best hockey. We’ve got to be prepared not to play 58 minutes really well, but 60 minutes and 60-plus if we have to,” explained Subban, referencing St. Louis’ third-period strike that forced OT. “All it’s going to take is one bounce, one mental lapse that’s going to cost them or cost us the game. That’s how it is in the second half. We’re doing a lot of things well, but I think we can be better.”
For his part, the Canadiens’ bench boss was appreciative of the way his group handled themselves against one of the premier clubs in the Western Conference.
“You can’t ask for a better effort,” praised Therrien. “The effort was there. The emotion was there. We went to the net hard.”
They most definitely did, and if they can do it again in less than 24 hours’ time, they’ll give themselves a good chance to pick up that W that they’re so desperately looking for.
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com
The Numbers Game: January 16, 2016
Statement from general manager Marc Bergevin regarding Friday's trade
Canadiens announced the acquisition of Victor Bartley and John Scott from Arizona
Brendan Gallagher breaks down NFL playoffs