UNIONDALE – Despite a final flurry of opportunities, the Habs came up short against the Islanders.
The Canadiens came close to battling back from a three goal deficit on Thursday night, but after the game, the team was more concerned with how they managed to fall behind in the first place.
“When you let up for big stretches like we did in the second period, and even when we came out flat-footed in the first, it’s tough to come back,” explained Max Pacioretty, who scored his ninth goal of the season in the second period. “We almost did, but it just shows you have to play a full 60 minutes. They played a pretty strong game, but I think if we had played our game we would’ve won tonight.”
With eight even-strength scoring chances and 29 shots on goal, the Canadiens had plenty of offensive opportunities against the Islanders. But it was his team’s work at the other end of the ice that concerned Michael Cammalleri the most.
“There were a lot of chances there at the end but it was a little bit too little too late,” admitted the Habs sniper. “It’s nice to be able to create those chances and give ourselves an opportunity to tie the game but we spotted them a few too many.
“I think we could’ve been better defensively,” added Cammalleri, who finished the night with a plus-1 differential. “We gave up too much and allowed them to score goals that if we don’t, we’re in a better situation. I wasn’t really worried about our game offensively tonight; I thought we could have been tighter defensively, especially in the first half of the game.”
Forced to watch his teammates battle it out from the comfort of a hospital bed back home in Montreal, Hal Gill was noticeably absent from the Habs lineup. Despite icing a defensive corps made up of three rookies and two sophomores without the help of the shut-down specialist and fellow veteran blue-liner Jaroslav Spacek, Jacques Martin wasn’t willing to use injuries as an excuse for the 4-3 loss.
“We gave up too many scoring chances tonight because we just weren’t coming back,” stressed the Habs head coach. “We didn’t support our defensemen the way we needed to and mistakes cost us tonight. If you look at our last 10 games, we were playing well without the puck. Tonight we let them get behind our defense too often.”
With Gill and Spacek both likely to miss Saturday’s game against the Rangers, the Habs can expect to spend some quality time in the D zone at practice on Friday morning. Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com
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