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Standing tall, but coming up short

Al Montoya registered his second shutout of the season on Sunday, but the Canadiens still came away with just a single point

by Matt Cudzinowski @canadiensmtl /

MONTREAL - Al Montoya played his heart out and pitched a shutout on Sunday afternoon, but it still wasn't good enough to put up a number in the win column.

Despite making 32 stops through regulation time and the ensuing extra frame, Montoya finally surrendered a goal to young gun Leon Draisaitl in Round 1 of the shootout, which ultimately gave the Oilers a 1-0 victory over the Canadiens on Sunday afternoon at the Bell Centre.

For Montoya, who was making just his second home start of the season and his first since October 18 when he blanked the Pittsburgh Penguins in the home opener, coming up short this time around was, as expected, particularly tough to swallow. 

"That's brutal. You go 0-0 through the whole game and have it decided in a shootout, 1-0. It's a tough way to lose, but at the same time we got a big, important point," said Montoya, who recorded his second shutout of the year and seventh of his NHL career. "We've been on quite a stretch here and it's a big point to walk away with."

Video: MTL Recap: Habs can't beat Talbot in 1-0 SO loss

That's for sure - especially during a stretch where goals and generating offense, in general, hasn't come easily to Michel Therrien's troops on the whole. The Oilers, like the Canadiens, are one of the stingier clubs in the League when it comes to allowing teams to put the puck in the back of their net, and they really didn't give their hosts much to work with in their lone regular-season visit to Montreal.

"It seems the hype about the game is always going to be a lot of offense, and we get into a defensive battle. They're a different team than they've been in the past and they're able to play well defensively. That's why they're having success this year," said captain Max Pacioretty, who registered one of the Canadiens' 22 total shots on Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot through 65 minutes of play, before being denied on the shootout-clincher. "They have a strong team. Some of their younger guys have gotten older and I think figured out how to be effective in this league."

Case in point is Oilers captain Connor McDavid, who the Canadiens did manage to keep in check during the matinee affair - even though he generated six shots on goal and came close to ending things in overtime on a breakaway attempt, only to be stymied by Montoya in-close with a highlight-reel pad stop.

Video: Al Montoya on his performance on Sunday afternoon

"He's got a lot of speed, McDavid. He had a couple of chances there to end the game, but Monty played great," said Pacioretty, on the play of the Canadiens' back-up in his 14th start of the 2016-17 campaign. "For some time now, he's been outstanding and we want to get two points every game, but I think when he comes in and plays like that, you feel bad not getting him that second point. Hopefully, next time." 

Montoya, meanwhile, was quick to praise those charged with shutting down the League's leading point-getter on the back end - Shea Weber and Alexei Emelin.

"Fantastic. I was pretty aware when they were on the ice. The D corps, in general, was great. They closed on pucks, they took away their speed. That's a fast team and they didn't have too many odd-man rushes. Hats off to these guys," praised Montoya. "Even the forwards came back and were breaking things up."

Now, the Canadiens will make their way to the Mile High City on Monday for a date with the Avalanche on Tuesday. Winless in three straight games, it will be another opportunity to right the ship and get their mojo back in the goal-scoring department.

Video: EDM@MTL: Montoya denies McDavid's breakaway in OT

"It was a tight game overall. Going 0-0 and into the shootout, it doesn't happen a lot these days. It was like a playoff-type game," said Alex Galchenyuk. "It's unfortunate that we didn't come up with the win. We've got to bounce back in Colorado."

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