EDMONTON - The Canadiens’ second road trip of the year got off to a tough start on Monday night.
Netminder Ben Scrivens turned aside 29 shots to lead the Oilers to a 3-0 win at Rexall Place, as Michel Therrien’s troops dropped their second game of the season after rattling off four straight victories on home ice. Benoit Pouliot, Nail Yakupov and Taylor Hall tallied for Dallas Eakins’ contingent, as the Oilers registered their fourth consecutive victory.
Despite surrendering a season-low 19 shots to the opposition and keeping the Oilers at bay during six power play opportunities, P.K. Subban didn’t mince words following the defeat in the Albertan capital.
“I don’t think we played the right way from the start. As much as we’re a good team and we’re going to generate opportunities, I don’t think we were playing our hockey game out there. I think we looked like we were playing a different game. I don’t know what we were expecting. We’ve got to use each other out there and play our system. It just seemed that some guys were on their own page,” offered Subban, who led all skaters on both teams by logging 27:05 of ice time. “As a team, we’ve played a lot of good hockey as of late. It’s no time to panic or anything like that. But, we have to play the same way every game. I don’t think we played the way that has gotten us a lot of success early in the season.”
Taking four minor penalties during the opening frame alone didn’t help the Canadiens’ cause either. If anything, it likely stalled any momentum they might’ve had coming out of the locker room to a raucous applause from the many Habs fans in attendance. Discipline issues aside, Subban is adamant that the final outcome of Monday night’s tilt was due primarily to straying from what has clicked on offense thus far this year.
“We can’t think that we’re a high-flying team that’s going to score five or six goals a game. It doesn’t work that way. We’ve got to grind things out. We’ve got to use each other. We’ve got to generate offense by putting pucks on net,” stressed Subban, whose club was held off the scoresheet for the first time during the 2014-15 campaign. “Right now, I didn’t like what I saw out there a little bit. Hopefully, we’re ready to play next game and we’re back to playing our game.”
Like Subban, Andrei Markov stressed the importance of getting back to basics as soon as possible with a game against the Flames on the horizon on Tuesday night in Calgary.
“It wasn’t there against Edmonton, so we just have to play harder and we have to play better in every aspect of the game. We have to win the battles. We have to go to the net, put the puck there and score some dirty goals,” confided Markov, who was one of 16 Habs to generate at least one shot on Scrivens in the loss. “If we didn’t score, that means that we weren’t good enough. It means that we have to work harder and be better. We have to put the puck at the net in traffic. If there’s no traffic in front, it’s easy for the goalie.”
For his part, Dustin Tokarski made 16 saves in his first start for the Canadiens since October 9th. While the 25-year-old netminder might have been pleased with his performance, he wasn’t at all satisfied with the final outcome.
“I felt good, but obviously not good enough. Scrivens was better, and that was the difference,” offered Tokarski, who dropped his first-ever regular-season start in a Canadiens uniform. “Any time you can play in front of family, it’s a real treat. I was happy to get the start, but unfortunately we didn’t get the win.”
Fortunately, the Canadiens have zero time to dwell on a game they’d rather soon put behind them and ultimately forget.
“We spent a lot of time in the Oilers zone, but we just weren’t able to generate any offense. The effort and intensity was there,” concluded Therrien. “We’ve got a tough schedule. Another big game awaits us in Calgary, so we’re just taking things one game at a time.”
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com
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