NEW YORK – The Canadiens have plenty of excuses at their disposal to explain their 6-3 loss to the Rangers, but they weren’t interested in using any of them after the game.
Having previously allowed five or more goals in just five games this season, the Habs saw the Rangers explode for five goals in the opening period alone on Friday night.
“You can’t take any credit away from them; they were flying,” admitted James Wisniewski, who chipped in with a goal and an assist and played a team-high 23:34 at Madison Square Garden. “The first period was all them and they created a lot of scoring opportunities by grinding it out down low.
“We have a lot of guys out, we played last night and it was a hard-fought game that went to a shootout, plus we travelled so I don’t know if we had our ‘A’ game, but that’s no excuse,” he emphasized. “They definitely outplayed us and outworked us in the first period.”
Helping his team mount a late comeback with a goal and assist of his own, Habs captain Brian Gionta
had a similar explanation for the loss – one that had nothing to do with the nine injured veterans the Canadiens had to play without.
“That’s no excuse,” underlined Gionta, who played a combined 44:15 in the past 24 hours. “That’s not why those plays happened; it’s not fatigue. We lost focus and made some plays we normally aren’t making. For parts of this game we just fell asleep and that’s what ultimately hurt us.
“When we’re moving it makes things a lot easier on us,” continued the 32-year-old winger. “Unfortunately tonight we weren’t doing a very good job of coming up the ice together with the puck. It was sloppy and we weren’t supporting each other.”
Michael Cammalleri wasn’t taking anything away from the Rangers on Friday night, but the only team’s performance the Habs sniper was focused on post-game was his own.
“I think they probably did some things really well and they were very precise in their execution. When we gave them something they took it and capitalized on it,” explained Cammalleri. “First of all, they did that job, but second of all – and more importantly for us – we gave them the kind of space we don’t like to give.
“They definitely showed their intent to win tonight, but at the same time, we weren’t sitting in here saying ‘Hey, we can throw one away’,” he added. “Before the game we were talking about the importance of these two points for us, as well.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.See also:BoxscoreThe Numbers Game - March 18 More of the same The Replacements