DALLAS -- The Habs will be looking to bounce back from a tough night in Dallas when they land in Nashville.
Facing the NHL’s hottest offensive team, the Canadiens knew they would have their work cut out for them against the Stars on Saturday night. Heading into the game, the Stars were averaging 3.34 goals-per-game, and had three players sitting among the league’s Top 20 point getters – including two in the Top 3. Their power play was clicking at a 21.6 percent clip whereas the Habs were looking to snap a seven-game scoreless streak with the man advantage, having gone 0-for-21 in that span.
Unfortunately, the first game of the Canadiens’ current eight-game road swing didn’t bring the kind of momentum the Habs had hoped for.
“Eight penalties against a team like that. It’s embarrassing,” underlined captain Max Pacioretty, whose team allowed three power play goals against in the 6-2 loss in Dallas. “I look at the game as a whole and after they went up 1-0 and maybe 2-0, it was like we didn’t have the confidence to get out of it. That’s what it felt like. I don’t know why.
“We started the year with nine wins in a row,” continued Pacioretty, who dished out a team-leading five hits on the night. “I don’t know why we don’t have confidence. I don’t know why we forgot how to play the game, but we have to find answers really quick. Before, we said we were playing well and we just weren’t getting lucky. I don’t think that’s the case anymore.”
Despite seeing Daniel Carr pull a great move to beat Antti Niemi with the man advantage and Paul Byron slip his third shorthanded marker of the season through Niemi’s five-hole in the third period, the Habs weren’t able to generate enough offense to combat the Stars’ firepower. Suffering a third-straight loss after allowing more than five goals for just the second time this season, the Canadiens have combined to score just three goals in their last three games – a far cry from the sniping that saw them rack up 35 goals en route to a 9-0-0 start to the campaign.
While they’ll need a collective effort to turn the tables on Monday in Nashville, the team’s leaders know the shift begins with them.
“I have to focus on my game. Every player has to be better,” confirmed Tomas Plekanec, who sits atop the Canadiens’ scoring leaderboard with 27 points in 34 games. “When you’re not playing with confidence, you’re not on the puck first, you’re not making plays, and you’re not doing the right things. It’s easy to play when everything is going right. When it gets harder, you have to go back to basics and focus on little details. You have to make those little, basic plays that get you out of it. We have to turn it around as a group. We’ve done it before. I’ve done it so many times before. It’s hard, it’s not fun, but we have to turn it around.
“When you lose, you’re frustrated. It doesn’t matter if it’s by one or 10,” he added. “We just have to find a way as a group to grind out the first one and then get back to playing the way we were before.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com
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