MONTREAL -- The Canadiens have enjoyed a lot of success this season, but Saturday turned out to be just one of those nights.
Firing 40 shots at Avalanche netminder Reto Berra -- one attempt shy of the season high set opposite Detroit on October 17 -- it’s tough to blame the night’s result on a lack of effort from the Habs.
Michel Therrien certainly didn’t.
“After two periods, we had three times as many shots as they did, but were behind 4 to 1,” acknowledged the Canadiens’ head coach matter-of-factly, whose team led 32-11 in the shots column following 40 minutes of play. “It was just that kind of game.”
Incredibly, that tally could have been even higher, with another 22 blocked shots never making it to the Avs net.
“We liked our offensive zone time and that was definitely a bright spot of the game, but at 6-1 I don’t really want to be talking about positives because we left our D-men and goalies out to dry,” admitted captain Max Pacioretty, who picked up an assist on Brendan Gallagher’s sole marker for the home side. “We’re a defense-first team and our blown assignments tonight were the difference. We play again in two days and we’ve got to find ways to clean this up.”
That sentiment was echoed throughout a Habs dressing room, that with an NHL-leading 63 goals this season, hasn’t often found itself on the wrong side of one-sided affairs.
“I’m not going to make excuses. I know that I can be better than that, and I’m not going point a finger at [Andrei Markov], because I thought he did a good job,” stressed alternate captain P.K. Subban, who led the team with eight shots over 22:04 of ice time. “With an optional skate [this morning] I should have been fresh, but I wasn’t sharp enough. I can say that because I know I’ll be better next game. As a leader on this team I’ve got to be a whole lot better for my teammates. It’s tough to come into the room after a period and try to get guys going when you aren’t doing the job yourself.”
Blessed with outstanding goaltending since the start of the season from duo Carey Price and Mike Condon, it was nevertheless the man between the visitors’ pipes who earned first star honors in what would turn out to be the Habs’ first home regulation loss of the current campaign.
“It happens. You’re going to make mistakes and have bad nights, so hopefully we’ll put this one behind us and be ready to go for the next one,” underlined Condon, who was replaced by Dustin Tokarski in goal following the second intermission. “It’s hockey, you’ve got to go out there and compete no matter what. It’s not about the last save or the last goal, it’s about the next one. I’ve got to give the guys a chance.”
As blunt as Therrien was during his postgame press conference, the 25-year-old goaltender also put things into perspective for a team which is tied with 28 points atop the League standings.
More specifically, one forgettable outing does not define a season.
“I’m going to go to bed tonight and wake up as usual,” concluded Condon, who will be back at practice with the Habs in Brossard on Sunday morning. “Tomorrow’s a new day.”
Steven Nechay is a writer for canadiens.com
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